• Vocal Health




    Voice problems are often related to vocal abuse or misuse

    • Vocal abuse includes habits that can have a traumatic effect on the vocal folds.  Some of the more common include: yelling, screaming, cheering, producing strained vocalizations while carrying heavy objects, singing with inappropriate vocal technique or under abusive environmental conditions, speaking in an abusive manner while the vocal folds are in a weakened condition.  

    • Vocal misuse is defined as incorrect use of pitch or loudness aspects of voice production.  Common examples of vocal misuse include: frequently talking in noisy environments such as in airplanes or automobiles, around heavy machinery, motorized sports equipment, while listening to loud music, in hallways and cafeterias of schools; and using extremes of pitch (high or low) in addition to loudness.  

    • Unresolved vocal abuse or misuse can lead to chronic laryngitis, hoarseness, lowered vocal pitch, vocal fatigue, vocal nodules, vocal polyps, contact ulcers, and pain in the laryngeal area.  People who report they lose their voice by the end of the day or have swallowing problems are often suffering from some form of vocal abuse or misuse.  

    • If any of the problems mentioned above persist for more than one week, see an Otolaryngologist or Voice Pathologist.  

    VOCAL HYGIENE          back to top

    1.  Limit talking time.  

    2.  Avoid excessive throat clearing.  

    3.  Avoid coughing whenever possible.  Use a silent cough.  

    4.  Avoid talking above loud noises.  

    5.  Keep volume level low on audio sets

    6.  Wear earplugs at amplified music concerts.  

    7.  Keep airflow smooth during exercise (especially weight lifting).  

    8.  Avoid phonating on inhaled air.  

    9.  Avoid glottal attack and glottal fry.  

    10.  Avoid forced inhale / exhale when engaged in sport activities.  

    11.  Avoid exposure to chemical odors.  

    12.  Do not smoke any kind of cigarettes or inhale any kind of drugs.  

    13.  Avoid alcohol.  

    14.  Drink plenty of water to avoid vocal fold dehydration (at least eight, eight ounce,  glasses per day).  

    15.  Limit caffeine consumption.  

    16.  Avoid environmental dryness.  

    17.  Do not hold back a sneeze.  

    18.  Keep membranes of mouth and throat moist.  

    19.  Avoid the use of high pitch ranges at full volume levels.  

    20.  Avoid bad posture.  

    21.  Avoid inadequate rest or sleep patterns.  

    22.  Employ stress management strategies effective for you.  

    23.  Improve your speaking and singing technique.  

    BASIC HEALTH CARE          back to top

    1.  Exercise regularly.  

    2.  Eat a balanced diet.  Avoid large amounts of salt or refine sugar.  

    3.  If you have laryngeal pharyngeal reflux, allow three hours of digestion before going to bed.  

    4.  Change lifestyle habits and diet to reduce reflux.  

    5.  Ask your doctor for medication in order to reduce stomach acid if you suffer from reflux.  

    6.  Emotional unrest and physical or mental fatigue can change your voice.  Be aware.  

    7.  See your physician regularly for general checkups.  

    8.  Maintain general good health.  

    STANDARD RULES FOR COLDS          back to top

    1.  Get plenty of rest.  

    2.  Speak as little as possible.  Do not sing if you can possibly avoid it.  

    3.  Drink plenty of fluids (water).  They reduce fever and make the mucous secretions thinner.  

    4.  Dryness increases discomfort.  Keep the throat moist by sucking lozenges or pastilles that do not contain menthol or other anesthetizing medicines.  

    5.  If a decongestant is needed, ask for one that does not dry the mucous membranes of the nose and throat.  

    6.  Avoid vigorous clearing of the throat and violent coughing.  A better way to clear the lunges is by inhaling steam (consult your physician).  

    7.  As little voice use as possible during throat infections, talking can be more harmful than singing.  

    BASIC RULES FOR YOUNG SINGERS          back to top

    1.  Do not smoke or drink alcohol.  

    2.  Work with a careful and patient teacher.  

    3.  Work on the control of the voice in your middle register.  

    4.  Do not give serious or demanding public performances until you are 19-20 years of age.  

    5.  Do not test your high notes often.  


    1.  Conversation should be minimized during air flight.  

    2.  Recover from "jet lag" prior to performance.  

    3.  If dulling of the hearing is noted on descent of the plane, the nose should be closed and the ears cleared by blowing.  

    4.  Clear hearing is essential to effective singing.  

    5.  The singer must be aware of psychological problems, which may interfere with the voice.  

    6.  Clearing the throat should be minimized.  

    7.  The singer must remember that talking may be more traumatic to the vocal folds than singing.  

    8.  Conversation in noisy surroundings must specially be avoided.  

    9.  Be sure to use the right warm-up for your speaking or singing voice.  

    10.  Teachers must be aware of chalk allergies.  

    11.  Avoid mouth breathing.  

    12.  Poor technique is the most serious contributor to vocal difficulties.  

    13.  Maintain a good optimal pitch level.  

    14.  Use a team when your voice is in trouble: physician, voice teacher, Otolaryngologist, choir director, you!

    IN SUMMARY          back to top

    When using the voice less is more.  The least amount of effort will result in the best voice.  

    Providing knowledge about the voice before a problem develops is one of the strongest preventative weapons medical professionals have.  Get, and follow, as much factual knowledge about voice and vocal health as you can.  

    If you visit a medical professional about a voice problem do not sing, act in plays, or give speeches or oral reports until your physician or voice pathologist approve.  

    Talk easily.  Do not strain the muscles of the throat, neck, or shoulders as you talk.  

    Save your voice.  Be cautious during illness.  Use warm-ups.  Produce voice efficiently.  Consult a physician when problems last more than one week.  

    This information is adapted from a pamphlet provided by:

    Lakeshore Professional Voice Center
    Cristina A.  Jackson-Menaidi, Ph.  D.  Co-Director / Voice Pathologist
    Adam D.  Rubin, MD Co-Director/Otolaryngologist
    21000 Twelve Mile Road Suite 111 St.  Clair Shores, Mi 48081
     Phone: (586) 779-7610 ext.  112 Fax: (586) 779-0031
    VPrint@aol.  com