Your Voice is your instrument
... so is your whole Body !
Here are some tips and advice from Kathy to keep your voice healthy for a lifetime of optimal use.
Let's keep our voices in good working condition well into our senior years.
Things that Are good for your Voice :
Take vitamins if you like. Not all, but many doctors recommend them.
Eat healthy foods.
Do vocal warm-ups every day.
Get plenty of sleep.
Be happy and live with an attitude of gratitude!
*Honey is a natural humectant, which draws moisture to the throat area.
Be sure to brush your teeth because honey has crazy-high sugar content.
*Entertainer's Secret Throat Relief Spray: An excellent, convenient, non medicinal throat moisturiser.
*Water: Hydrate through the body! Drink lots of water!
*Diaphragmatic Breathing: Breathe deeply from the stomach area; not shallow quick breaths using only the top of the lungs.
Use Your Voice Wisely.
*Personal Habits: Open-mouth sleepers: always have water at your bedside for lubrication before retiring & upon awakening.
*A Vocal Coach of any kind is recommended for ANYONE who relies on their voice. A good coach will recommend a course of action. Even try a few sessions, if only to get solid basics & foundation for your continued growth in your own time.
*Resting the Voice: Sore throat or not, resting the voice is always good.
*Vocal Warm-up before a day of Speaking: Keep your voice in shape! Build the muscles which aid the apparatus. Simply HUM long, quiet, relaxed notes on the "NG" consonant combination. Swallow the mucous away after each long note you hum. Repeat on a new note.
*Use Common Sense.
Things that are Not good for your Voice :
REMEMBER: Your Voice Needs Mositure
DRY ENVIRONMENTS adversely effect your voice. When your body is dehydrated, there is less lubrication in your larynx, so wear takes place at a much greater rate than normal.
Laryngologists recommend a humidity level of 40-50%. A lot body moisture is lost while you're breathing air in dry climates; such as air-conditioned or heated rooms cars, buses or airplanes.
... Airplanes carry minimal amounts of water on board because water is heavy and fuel is expensive. On one flight across the ocean, it was so dry that I drank a 1.5 litre bottle of water without needing to go to the washroom even once. (Before carry on liquids were banned on planes). Drink at least 8 ounces of water per hour while flying. You also lose moisture through your skin, which is 19% of your body weight (!) and an organ of respiration as well.
If your home has electric baseboard heating the air will be very dry.
Other drying & irritating environments which adversely affect your voice include:
air conditioned areas
dusty places (possibly w/a lot of paper products/books, but they're everywhere)
very green areas with pollens in the air
ocean areas with salt in the air
unventilated areas with chemicals in the air
deserts - which are naturally arid
polluted urban locations
Things to Avoid ... to keep your Voice Healthy
*Throat clearing is abusive & can cause extended irritation over years. Try to swallow the mucous away & you will get better at "squeezing" phlegm away as you strengthen inner muscles. Drinking water will also make the mucous more viscous (thinner) & easier to swallow away. The 'Silent Cough Technique' can be used to clear the throat without harshly slamming the vocal folds together. To do this: Breathe air in, and blow the air out very fast without making a vocal sound.
*Whispering: Is one of the most abusive things you can do to your voice, especially if you have a sore throat or laryngitis in any form. Be quiet & let the voice rest; let the inflammation subside.
*Yelling: Keep vocal abuse to a minimum at sporting, political or musical events! As a Drill Sergeant bellows commands (as I did in the RCAF) often the loud resonant voices are relaxed & the full, voluminous sound easily flows out. The larynx is NOT tense, forced, & it's not 'screaming'. Athletes like Curlers often engage their voices with big, easy, full tones.
*Caffeine: (cola, chocolate, tea or coffee) Dries the voice, and is also a nervous system stimulant that can cause hyperactivity and tremor...both can have adverse vocal affects. Beverages with caffeine include: Jolt, Surge, Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow (very high), Coca Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper. Coffee is also acidic and may trigger gastroesophogeal reflux (GERD).
*Licorice Root: is a uterine stimulant. It has an estrogen and progesterone effect. May possibly change pitch of voice.
*Peppermint relaxes smooth muscle and can promote gastroesophogeal reflux (GERD) into the throat.
*Alcohol dries your voice. If you must drink caffeine or alcohol, drink a glass of water with it.
*Medicated Lozenges: AVOID products like chloroseptic lozenges with menthol, which numb the throat. Increases danger of improper / abusive voice use.
*Reflux Laryngitis: Stomach acid can travel up into the throat and irritate the larynx, hindering voice quality (often while sleeping). Your throat isn't designed to handle that. Some of the symptoms are hoarseness, chronic cough, chronic sore throat and thick mucus Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease(GERD) can cause laryngitis and can possible be linked to cancer of the throat. Please research this on health sites on the internet; there is lots of information available. It is a real danger to the voice, as I have experienced vocal issues with this and so have some of my colleagues. One singing teacher I know lost her voice for a very long time and it was finally discovered that GERD was the reason. Also try "Eat Right 4 Your Type" diet as a partial remedy.
*Chocolate, mint & spicy food: All can increase production of stomach acid, which can irritate the vocal folds, causing cough, hoarseness, throat clearing, etc.
*Dairy:Foods with dairy like milk, chocolate, cheese, etc. cause excess mucous in the throat. Can obscure the vocal sound, and also prompt throat clearing hich is bad for the voice.
*Constant Mouth-Breathing: Is drying to throat and doesn't filter air. OK when using voice for work or performance.
*Extreme Changes in Temperature
*Smoking: Smoking can have fatal consequences. According to a tobacco facts website, over 90% of laryngeal cancer is caused by smoking. Chemicals & heat of 1st and 2nd hand smoke irritate the lining of the throat. Long term exposure causes changes to vocal folds: swelling by an accumulation of fluid inside the folds making the voice rougher & less reliable. Nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, & spit tobacco is addictive...it narrows blood vessels & strains your heart. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death & disease in USA, causing 440,000 deaths annually '95-'99. Can cause chronic lung disease, coronary heart disease, & stroke; linked to 80% of all cancers, including the lungs, larynx, esophagus, mouth & bladder. Also contributes to cancer of the cervix, pancreas, & kidneys. Smokeless tobacco & cigars can be deadly. HEY!!! Did you know that smokers have three times as many cavities as nonsmokers???
*Marijuana : High in tar (50% more than tobacco) and 400 other identified chemicals. 3-5 marijuana joints/week = smoking 16 cigarettes daily. Associated with gum disease, loss of teeth, cancer of the cheeks, gums, palate, tongue, lips, larynx & esophagus. Washington Post, Jan '00: Marijuana is inhaled deeply, depositing 4x's more particulate matter in the mouth, throat & windpipe than cigarettes.
*Other Things That Can Cause Problems in the Larynx: Antihistamines, aspirins, thyroid drugs, birth control pills,(estrogens), hypertension drugs, steroids. Anti-histamines and decongestants act as dehydrating agents; e.g. Benadryl, Sudafed, Dimetapp.
*Tense Speaking: Tense, strangled voices indicate that the larynx is high & tight in the throat. Will tire quickly; bad habit.
*Breathy Speaking: Indicates quick, shallow, drying breaths...and underdeveloped muscles in the throat. Is abusive.
*Never Force Your Voice: If you face vocal challenges, including fatigue, be patient. The voice is fairly resilient, but if something feels wrong or hurts when you phonate- stop immediately.
*Chemical Fumes-everything inhaled passes by the vocal cords.
*Local Throat Anesthetics: These medications relieve pain caused by sore throat. But don't ever use them if you are going to use your voice a lot. The numbing effect hides the pain, usually resulting in too much misuse of the voice and over-vocalizing. The absence of pain does not mean that your voice is OK. E.g. avoid Chloraseptic, Cepacol.
Some medications including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements can affect the
function of your voice. If your doctor prescribes a medication that adversely affects your voice, make
sure the benefit of taking the medicine outweighs the problems with your voice. Most medications
affect the voice by drying out the protective mucosal layer covering the vocal cords. Vocal cords must
be well-lubricated to operate properly; if the mucosa becomes dry, speech will be more difficult. This is why hydration is an important component of vocal health. Medications can also affect the voice by thinning blood in the body, which makes bruising or hemorrhaging of the vocal cord more likely if trauma occurs, and by causing fluid retention (edema), which enlarges the vocal cords.
Medications from the following groups can adversely affect the voice:
Antihypertensives (blood pressure medication)
Antihistamines (allergy medications) Anticholinergics (asthma medications)
High-dose Vitamin C (greater than five grams per day)
Other medications and associated conditions that may affect the voice include:
Angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (blood pressure medication) may induce a cough or excessive throat clearing in as many as 10% of patients. Coughing or excessive throat clearing can contribute to vocal cord lesions.
Oral contraceptives may cause fluid retention (edema) in the vocal cords because they contain estrogen.
Estrogen replacement therapy post-menopause may have a variable effect.
An inadequate level of thyroid replacement medication in patients with hypothyroidism.
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) may increase chances of vocal cord hemorrhage or polyp formation in response to trauma.
Herbal medications are not harmless and should be taken with caution. Many have side effects that include voice disturbance.
NOTE: Contents of the medications facts are based on information from The Center for Voice at Northwestern University.
* Kathy is not a doctor and these recommendations for the health of the voice are to be followed at the discretion of the reader. They are Kathy's personal opinion only. The owner and author of content of this website in whole or in part shall not be held responsible for any actions taken on behalf of visitors to this website as a result of reading this information. Check with your physician before undertaking any new health regimen.
I found one available online here for $13.00 CAD.
I bought mine at the IDA Drugstore on Bayview Ave. in North York.
I recommend using a Neti Pot. It works for myself and many professional singers I know.
It can be used often to clean your nose, helps you to avoid getting colds, removes impurities and it helps to relieve allergies. The salty solution mimics your tears.
HOW TO USE IT:
Boil a cup of water. (I use distilled). Dissolve 1/2 tsp. or 1 tsp. of pink Himalayan salt into the water and LET IT COOL to very warm. Don't burn your nose. Pour the water into your neti pot. Over the sink, hold your head to the side, and keep breathing through your mouth while you pour the water into one nostril with the spout, and it flows out of the other nostril into the sink. Have a hand towel nearby if you're not used to doing this. You can use 1/2 a pot each side, or a whole pot for each side.
It takes some practice to hold your head at the right angle. Afterwards, you will be shocked at how much mucous you remove when you blow your nose.
There is a good video on how to use it HERE. Please do not use hot water from the tap.