Are You a Super Fan? Avoid Damaging Your Voice

Rein in the cheering when your throat begins to ache

Are You a Super Fan? Avoid Damaging Your Voice

One of the most fun aspects of watching a big sporting event like the Super Bowl or Final Four is cheering on your team. Many of us will go to work or school on Monday with a scratchy throat and raspy voice.

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During a big game, you may use your voice more than you normally would and at a higher volume because you’re cheering on your team and discussing the game with friends. You also might be watching the game in a noisy place, like a bar or restaurant, and need to speak louder than usual because of the surrounding din.

Alcohol also contributes to voice problems. It can dry out your throat, which can make screaming more damaging. Alcohol also removes inhibitions, so you may use your voice more and talk louder.

Most of the time, the hoarseness will be only temporary. But some doctors see some patients with severe injury inflicted through overenthusiastic cheering and yelling.

Extreme yelling

“In years past, we have seen a lot of people who yelled so loudly during the game they hemorrhaged into their vocal fold. Their cheering actually created a bruise,” says voice expert Michael Benninger, MD. Dr. Benninger is Chairman of the Head and Neck Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

The vocal folds are within the larynx, which also is called the voice box. They are structures that open for breathing, come together during swallowing, and vibrate as air passes between them during speaking or singing.

The doctor’s advice for these patients with bruised vocal folds? Silence.

“In those cases, we get people on almost complete voice rest because the bleeding or bruise can consolidate into a scar or polyp,” Dr. Benninger says.

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When the vocal folds become scarred, fibrous tissue replaces normal tissue. The fibrous tissue reduces the vibration of the vocal folds, which results in your voice sounding less clear.

Monitor your voice

On the night of the big game, Dr. Benninger suggests drinking lots of water to keep yourself hydrated. He also recommends being aware of your vocal limits and keeping tabs on how your voice is doing throughout the evening. If your throat starts to feel sore, it’s time to rein in the cheering.

“If you’re starting to feel like you’re starting to get hoarse or your throat is a little bit scratchy, you should probably start holding back a little bit,” he says. “If it’s bad now, it’s going to be worse later.”

You can do two things to be loud and proud without harming yourself, Dr. Benninger says. One is to make sure you have enough breath to support loud talking and yelling.

“Get a full chest of air so you can really project your voice,” Dr., Benninger says. “Most people draw in air at the end of their speech and, as a result, they don’t get enough volume.”

The second strategy is to keep your yells and cheers brief.

“When you’re yelling loudly, do it in very short increments,” Dr. Benninger says. “Use a little bit of loud voice and then bring it back to a conversational level.”

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Post-game

If you’re hoarse after the game, Dr. Benninger recommends resting your voice and continuing to drink lots of water for a faster recovery.

Running a humidifier in your bedroom at night also may help to soothe a rough, scratchy throat.

If you have acid reflux, you can try taking an antacid before going to sleep or propping yourself up on pillows, Dr. Benninger says. Acid reflux can irritate the throat.

If you’re still experiencing hoarseness after three or four days, it’s time to see a doctor.

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