You need it to phone your mother, win an argument, call the dog or order extra cheese on your pizza. Your voice plays a vital role in your everyday life, but it’s easy to take it for granted.
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To preserve and protect your voice, try these simple tips from voice-care specialist Claudio Milstein, PhD.
1. Listen to yourself
Hoarseness can indicate something as simple as allergies or as serious as laryngeal cancer. If your hoarseness lasts more than a few weeks, particularly if you smoke or if you have no other cold-like symptoms, make an appointment with a voice specialist.
2. Quit for good
Tobacco, nicotine, chemicals and inhaled heat can create inflammation and swelling and cause cancer of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs. Quit chewing and quit smoking. It’s bad for your health in the short- and long-term.
3. Don’t let drinking dry you out
Drink alcohol and caffeine in moderation; their dehydrating effects can strain your vocal folds. Drink one glass of water for each cup of coffee or alcoholic beverage you imbibe to avoid dehydration.
4. Turn down the volume
Watch out when yelling at the games. Avoid screaming, cheering loudly and talking over very loud noise because they put unnecessary strain on the vocal folds, and at times can damage the voice.
5. Warm up those pipes
Before you teach, give a speech or sing, do neck and shoulder stretches, hum for a while, or glide from low to high tones using different vowel sounds.
6. Get relief for reflux
Acids backing up from the stomach into the throat can damage the vocal folds. Signs of acid reflux include frequent heartburn, a bad taste in your mouth in the morning, frequent bloating or burping, a lump in the back of your throat and frequent hoarseness. Consult a specialist for help.
7. Don’t force it
When you’re hoarse from laryngitis, a cold or the flu, take it easy. Avoid speaking loudly or at length, and keep from straining your voice and even singing until you’re feeling better.
8. Fight the urge to clear your throat
Avoid frequent throat clearing and harsh coughing when you have postnasal drip or a cold. Instead, try sipping water or nursing a cough drop.
9. Give it a rest
If you’ve been talking too much or too loudly, let someone else do the talking for a while. Your voice will thank you.
10. Try cool, clear water
Drink plenty of water always to help lubricate your vocal folds.
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