At one time or another we have all yelled or cheered loudly and strained our voice.  We don’t give our voice much thought, until we lose it. That's why we need to protect it.

The human voice is made up of bands of muscle and tissue which we know as vocal cords. When we talk, the folds come together as air travels through them which causes them to vibrate. That is what makes the  sound waves that travel though our mouth, nose, and throat. Most of us use our voice for our work, but singers, teachers, TV and radio personalities, sales people, and public speakers are among those who make great demands on their voices.

Almost 18 million adults in the U.S. report problems with their voice. There are many reasons for voice problems including infection, overuse and even acid reflux which causes inflammation. If you notice changes in your voice, take our short quiz to see if it could be a problem.  Plus, check out these ten tips from The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to keep your voice in tip top shape.

If you answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you may have a voice problem:

  • Has your voice become hoarse or raspy?
  • Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing?
  • Does your voice suddenly sound deeper?
  • Does your throat often feel raw, achy, or strained?
  • Has it become an effort to talk?
  • Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat?

 

  • 1

    Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.

    Water helps keep the vocal folds moist.

  • 2

    Say No to Caffeine and Alcohol

    Limit caffeine and alcohol, this can dry the vocal folds and larynx.

  • 3

    Don't Smoke

    Avoid smoking or inhaling tobacco smoke, this can irritate the vocal folds.Also, cancer of the vocal folds is seen most often in individuals who smoke.

  • 4

    Use a Humidifier

    This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. Thirty percent humidity is recommended.

  • 5

    Try to Avoid Throat-Drying Meds

    Avoid or limit use of medications that dry out the vocal folds, including some common cold and allergy medications. If you have voice problems, ask your doctor which medications would be safest for you to use.

  • 6

    Limit Spicy Foods

    Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus, causing heartburn or GERD.

  • 7

    Eat Well

    Include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E, and C. They also help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat healthy.

  • 8

    Get Enough Sleep

    Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

  • 9

    Exercise Regularly

    Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.

  • 10

    Don't Use Mouthwash

    Avoid mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or irritating chemicals. If you still wish to use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, limit your use to oral rinsing. If gargling is necessary, use a salt water solution.