Bayside Voice Centre

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Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, Cleveland

A clear, strong voice is essential in certain jobs and for that, you need good vocal hygiene.  No, it has nothing to do with cleanliness.  The is the office term used for keeping your voice in healthy working order, and when combined with voice training, will help you optimise your voice. 

If you have a job such as teaching, acting, public speaking, law, or sales, then your voice is a tool. You use it constantly and rely on it to do your job effectively. But if you don’t care for it properly, then it can end up feeling strained, fatigued, croaky or hoarse. 

vocal hygiene strategies

Like any other part of your body, your throat and voice can suffer from overuse. This isn’t a problem that you can ignore because it can worsen over time. Instead, you need to practice good vocal hygiene strategies to ensure that your most important tool stays strong, persuasive, and compelling throughout your career. 

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Jenny is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, in Brisbane, with a special interest in voice.

What is Vocal Hygiene? 

If you rely on your voice to do your job, then you need to take care of your instrument. Effective vocal hygiene strategies are good habits that you perform every day to protect and maintain the health and strength of your voice.  These healthy habits often act as the foundation for voice care if it’s been damaged. 

The ‘source’ of sound is your vocal folds. These are two bands of smooth muscle tissue in the larynx.  When you speak, air flows past the vocal folds then they vibrate to produce sound. The size and shape of the vocal folds and the cavities around them acts as a ‘filter’ to determine the pitch, tone, and volume of your voice. 

There are two parts of effective vocal hygiene. 

  1. Avoid activities and situations that damage the vocal folds. 
  2. Adopt habits that strengthen and preserve them. 

Everyday Vocal Hygiene Strategies

If you rely on your voice every day, then you need to practice good vocal hygiene every day, to protect and maintain your most valuable tool.  Here are some vocal hygiene steps that will help: 

Pay Attention to your Voice 

Identifying early signs of strain can be vital in preventing long-term damage. Rest it when it sounds strained or has pitch breaks. Don’t speak louder than is necessary. 

Use your Voice Wisely 

One of the best things you can do to maintain your voice hygiene is to adopt strategies that protect your voice when you’re using it. This isn’t always easy. There will be times when you use your voice with unexpected force. But by following these vocal hygiene steps, you can minimise the chances of this happening: 

  • Refrain from shouting or whispering and speak at a moderate, conversational level whenever possible
  • Rest your voice when it needs it and don’t try to speak or sing when your voice is hoarse or tired
  • Practice breath control techniques regularly and when speaking to support your voice with breaths from the diaphragm rather than ‘pushing’ from the throat
  • Use a microphone or personal amplification device for public speaking whenever possible
vocal hygiene strategies

Warm Up

If you’re going to sing or speak in public, it can help if you warm up your voice before you go on stage. You wouldn’t go right into a long run without warming up your muscles, so give your vocal folds the same care. 

Drink Water, Not Alcohol

Drinking at least 8 cups of water a day will help keep your throat lubricated and your voice smooth and strong. Do not be tempted to replace the water with alcohol, as it will only dry out your throat and increase mucus production.

Be Aware of your Environment

Environments that are filled with smoke, car exhaust, chemicals, or allergens act as an irritant to the delicate tissues in your throat. Try to avoid or minimise your exposure to these environments where possible.

Relax 

Your vocal folds don’t work or exist in isolation, they’re dependent on the health of everything around them. Clenching or tensing your jaw, tongue, and teeth can create a flow on effect that stresses and strains your voice. That’s why working on keeping them relaxed and loose should be part of your everyday voice hygiene routine.  

Eat Well

The food you eat and what you drink is vital to your vocal hygiene. Here are some guidelines that will help improve the health of your voice: 

  • Avoid fluids that dry out the throat like coffee or mouthwash
  • Avoid foods that cause heartburn such as spicy or fried foods 
  • Minimise dairy products as they increase mucus production

Create a Healthy Lifestyle 

Keeping the rest of your body strong with a healthy lifestyle will go a long way towards helping you maintain good vocal hygiene. You can do this by:

  • Avoiding smoking and smoke-filled environments 
  • Resting when you need to
  • Exercising regularly to improve posture and breathing 
  • Being aware of and working on your posture as the position of your neck, head, and torso affects your voice
  • Using a humidifier in your home to prevent your throat from drying out at night 
  • Washing your hands and wearing a mask when necessary to avoid colds and the flu
  • Taking care of your voice when you’re sick
vocal hygiene

Call Now To Make An Appointment

Jenny is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist, in Brisbane, with a special interest in voice.

Practise your vocal hygiene

If your voice is essential for your job, then it requires care to maintain vocal fitness. It’s easy to ignore stressors when your voice is healthy. But when things start to go wrong you need to take action immediately with vocal hygiene strategies that help protect this valuable tool or repair any damage. 

If you’re concerned about your voice and nothing seems to be helping, help is available . A speech pathologist as part of your health team has the experience and the knowledge to respond to vocal damage. They can also help you develop your voice to its full potential with vocal hygiene ‘rescue remedies’ that enhance without causing damage.