7 best ways to maintain good voice health even in worst conditions.
Voice health can be thought of as the care and feeding of our voice. Voice health means doing things in order to prevent it from being damaged from any kind. We usually work on improving the working of our larynx (voice box) by various vocal therapies, but that is not just enough. Taking care of our body and using voice well comes first. Here’s how to maintain a good vocal health which works flawlessly even in the conditions which aren’t much compatible with your body.
I. Maintaining vocal hygiene
1. What is Vocal Hygiene ?
Vocal hygiene are involves the habits of an individual which keeps your vocal folds healthy and strong for your shelf life.
Vocal hygiene is the only way to preserve our voice health and keeps voice resonating even in our 60s, 70s and so on.
Just as we take care of our loved ones by taking care of the needs, voice also just needs a little love by using and feeding it well.
One of most important way to maintain good voice health is by keeping it Hydrated. We’ll learn about that more as you scroll and also the types of hydration we can provide and necessary.
2.Why is maintaining Vocal Hygiene necessary ?
To keep vocal folds clear and strong.
Our vocal folds vibrate when we make use of our vocal cords. It has a thin mucus layer covering over it which protects the vocal folds from infections and hard frictions of vibrations if voice is misused or bad effect on voice health. So, maintaining voice health keeps mucus layer thin for the correct vibrations produced and preventing the voice abuse.
3.How to maintain Vocal Hygiene ?
Most important aspect is to keep vocal folds moist through good hydration both internally ad externally.
Our body plays a vital role in keeping voice healthy because vocal folds move best when body is well-hydrated.
Stretching body and neck muscles for smooth flow of vocal folds.
II. Key factor is HYDRATION.
A. Internal Hydration
1. What is Internal Hydration and why is it important?
Internal hydration refers to keeping body and vocal folds moist or hydrated internally so that it could function swiftly for good voice health.
Vocal folds move best.
To keep folds lubricated and prevent infections by mucus layer.
2. Ways to be internally hydrated.
Makes mucus which covers vocal folds thin and slippery as a result they vibrate and move against each other swiftly maintaining good voice health.
Drink plently of water i.e., at least 8 ounce serving of water per day ( total 64 ounces). That’s a little less then 2 liters per day. Drinking more water is always the best but minimum this amount should be taken for maintaining voice health.
Alcohol and caffeine makes dry entire body which makes the vocal folds drier. Cut them down.
Dry environments also dry our voice and voice health and our body. If you know you will be in a dry environment ( like a dry building or an airplane), carry and drink lots of water.
Drink caffeine-free tea.
Foods with high water content. Eg- cucumbers, grapes and gelatin and many more.
Flavor your water with fruit or sugar free powdered drink mixes.
B. External Hydration
1. What is External Hydration and why is it important ?
Getting moisture from outside i.e., skin or other sources like inhalation or good moist environment is a good condition for voice health.
It doesn’t let body get dry easily and keep it healthy as we inhale.
To give soothing effects to body and vocals through skin as our skin absorbs some agents coming in contact with it.
Voice box stays moist and can be very soothing to irritated vocals and voice health.
To help body clean and heal faster and remove the unwanted agents like nasal discharge through steam inhalation and clearing out the passage.
2. Ways to be externally hydrated.
Steam Inhalation for good voice health – Breathing/inhaling steam. Breathe steam through nose for 3-5 minutes for two or three times a day.
Breathe shower steam.
From personal steamer.
Run hot water into sink or basin and inhale steam. Never breathe standing over hot stove or boiling water.
Run a washcloth under hot water, wring it out and hold it over your mouth and nose, breathe in for soothing voice health benefits.
C. Room Humidification.
1. What is Room Humidification and why is it important?
Providing moisture through Room Humidification or Hot Water Vaporizer.
It is a kind of external hydration only that affect voice health soothingly.
2. Important tips to use a Room Humidifier.
Room humidity should be around 30% – 50%. Use a hygrometer to check room or surrounding humidity.
Don’t use cool mist vaporizer as it can cause chemicals and germs into air which can also cause infection to vocals leading to bad voice health.
Clean your gadgets to prevent germs in air.
If you have mold and mildew allergies, then don’t use this method because it will help them grow and affect your voice health also.
D. Medications and Hydration
Many cold and allergy medications dry the body from the inside. Try to avoid them and if taking then intake extra water to make up their drying effect for voice health. Never change medicines without your doctors consultation.
If your doctor recommends you a Mucolytic Medicine, it helps keep mucus thin and slippery. They are available Over The Counter. Active ingredient is Guaifenesin. Take a preparation that doesn’t include decongestants, antihistamines or cough suppressants.
NOTE- Mucolytics are only effective if you intake a are well-hydrated. They are not a substitute for hydration.
Many cough drops and throat lozenges are drying to the mucus membrane of mouth and throat. Especially true for products that contain menthol and eucalyptus.
Best lozenges which keeps good voice health are without menthol and eucalyptus are glycerin, pectin or slippery elm lozenges.
III. VOCAL MISUSE.
1. How to know voice is misused?
Using voice in a way that causes it injuries.
It can lead to vocal fold lesions ( bumps or calluses on vocal folds), in. some cases, can cause permanent damage to voice and voice health.
In vocal misuse voice gets overly tired and pain in voice. This is not a symptom of good voice health.
Vocal folds are made of layers of delicate tissue. When voice makes sound, folds vibrate and come together .If they vibrate easily in a gentle way, voice works well and if they vibrate hard or in a forceful way, they can be injured.
2. Reasons for Vocal misuse.
Yelling, screaming and hollering (including cheerleading).
Talking in noisy situations like sporting events, restaurants, bars, parties, social gatherings, industrial settings can affect voice health.
Singing without warmup or without singing training.
Talking a lot can also cause damage as vocal folds come together about 100-200 times per second when we talk and can become millions when talking for many hours. It can cause wear and tear. So rest voice and recover your voice health, they can become injured overtime affecting the vocal health.
Many styles of singing can also damage vocals. Just like athletes and dancers warmup muscles before performance to avoid injuries, singing is the ‘Athleticism’ of voice use. Warmup before singing and train well to use body to avoid injury.
IV. Avoiding vocal misuse and maintaining good vocal health.
Use noise maker or gestures to gain someones attention instead of yelling or screaming keeps voice healthy.
Walk over or let them come instead of yelling across the room.
Use easy, gently throat clearing.
Avoiding talking in noisy situation or get close to the person you want to speak to put an earplug in one ear to monitor your loudness. This will avoid bad affect on voice keep voice health safe.
Use microphone to speak in large room or in front of audience or class.
Give voice breaks when using voice a lot for preserving voice health.
While speaking of phone hands free device or hold the receive in your hand instead of propping it between ear and shoulder , this tense vocal folds.
avoid speaking in stressful situations or when overly tense.
Throat clearing is traumatic and can lead to injury which can lead to bad voice health. People often feel this need to clear out thick mucus. Increasing water intake will gradually improve this problem overtime. Suppressing this habit or clearing very gently can help break this cycle. Do following to help in suppressing this habit.
Dry swallowing – swallowing saliva closes vocal folds and get it rid of mucus.
Taking small sips of water.
Gentle throat clearing without foreign breath. It will sound like puff of air in. the throat.
Pant lightly or laugh gently then swallow.
Talk through mucus. Natural vibration of vocal folds may rid the folds of secretions which leads to good voice health.
Singers may try to vocalize lightly on five note scale in comfortable range on ‘oo’, slide up an octave softly on ‘oo’ and crescendo.
Eating watery foods and foods cooked in less oil and spices can also prevent this habit and is also essential in maintaining good voice health.
For Singers, teachers, actors, directors (any voice using professionalisms)
Warmup before singing and cool down your voice after singing is as important as starting warmup.
Take proper voice training.
Use voice in a healthy way or consult a trainer or speech pathologist.
Know your vocal limits and stay within your voice limits to prevent any harm ( pitch, loudness and endurance) .
Rest voice before and after a big singing day.
Plan voice use and after voice especially at times of vocal demands
Stop singing if tired.
Learn music by listening rather than singing. Don’t spend voice on learning music.
If you sing in a band, use monitors and have small speaker facing you on stage to hear and adjust your volume of voice.
Plan singing schedule carefully.
Avoid the overbooking or doing any over voice involving activity.
Avoid drinking ice-cold drinks while singing or doing / having continuous voice usage. Room temperature is the best.
Get a baseline evaluation of voice when your voice healthy so as to compare and prevent fro injuries.
Take on – stage voice class to project voice without any harm.
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