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Vocal Health Tips

How often do you talk every day? Whether your career relies on a strong voice day in and day out, such as a teacher, lawyer or singer, or you need to talk to family members or co-workers, maintaining a healthy voice is critical to nearly every single person.

Do you know how to keep your voice healthy? It starts with healthy vocal cords.

5 tips for healthy vocal cords

  1. Rest – Take breaks during extended use of your voice.

  2. Hydrate – Drink 64 ounces of water per day to keep your body hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

  3. Avoid smoke – Don’t smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

  4. Don’t abuse your voice – Avoid yelling and screaming. Use microphones to amplify your voice when speaking to large crowds.

  5. Use sparingly – Don’t talk when sick, spare the voice.

For some professions, such as vocalists, teachers or actors, it is recommended to learn proper vocal techniques and routinely refresh these techniques with a vocal coach.

Symptoms and treatments for damaged vocal cords

The most common symptom of vocal damage or abuse is hoarseness. This is usually caused by vocal abuse or misuse, including excessive use of the voice when singing, talking, coughing or yelling. Smoking and inhaling irritants also can cause vocal cord abuse.

When the voice is intermittently hoarse, or the voice comes and goes, things are usually still at a point where the damage is reversible. When the voice becomes persistently hoarse, that is when there is worry that permanent damage has been done.

If you suspect vocal damage, the first step is to see an otolaryngologist. Vocal rest with total silence and lots of hydration can help but many disorders can masquerade as hoarseness. It is important to have a laryngologist look at the vocal cords and identify the real problem.

Fellowship-trained laryngologist Mausumi Syamal, MD at LVPG Ear, Nose and Throat–Palmer Township is specially trained in conditions affecting the larynx. She offers videostroboscopy to all her patients presenting with a laryngeal complaint. This allows Syamal to view the laryngeal structures and motion in incredible detail – down to capillaries of the vocal cords and the individual mucosal waves while a patient makes sound.

Once a diagnosis of vocal cord damage or another vocal cord condition is made, treatment may include:

  • Resting the voice
  • Stopping the behavior that caused the damage
  • Prescription medicine
  • Surgery

If you are coping with voice problems, call 888-402-LVHN (5846) to schedule an appointment with one of our LVHN otolaryngologists or request an appointment online at LVHN.org/entappointment.