Have you ever had the awful experience of losing your voice? Of having to miss out on conversations, make people wait while you scrawl out words on paper for them to decipher, or cancel events, work and classes?
I had laryngitis once when I was a kid, and once was too much!
Here’s how it happens: the vocal cords create sound when they come together and vibrate; when they can’t come together in a healthy way, you have less sound.
If the vocal cords (aka vocal folds) are irritated and strained, they can get inflamed and tense to the point that the muscles overcompensate, cramp up and stop the vocal cords from coming together.
Laryngitis is basically a vocal cord cramp.
The more you strain your throat muscles to create sound, the higher you increase your chances of getting laryngitis, vocal nodes or polyps.
Vocal nodes are like calluses that can grow on your vocal cords if they are slammed together too tightly and too often – for instance if you constantly clear your throat.
Vocal polyps are like blisters filled with fluid that can burst.
Vocal nodes and vocal polyps can create chronic breathiness, pain, loss of range and fatigue.
What can you do instead to consistently keep your voice healthy, clear and strong – especially when you need your voice in order to make income, create music, save a life, or connect with someone you care about?
10 Do’s to Prevent Losing Your Voice
- Learn physical and vocal warm-ups that help to relax your throat and vocal cords
- Learn to keep your throat and vocal cords relaxed at every level when you speak or sing
- Take care of your back and neck so that they are aligned (alignment helps keep your throat open and relaxed, and your breathing easy)
- Drink lots of water (8 or more glasses a day is recommended)
- Sip warm healthy liquids like teas and soups (for most people, I recommend hot water, honey, lemon, with 4 slices of fresh ginger)
- Protect your immune system and emotional health with healthy foods and vitamin supplements – especially vitamins C and B12 (I follow Dr. Jonny Bowden’s recommendations www.jonnybowden.com and also eat healthy Korean foods)
- Take care of health issues such as viruses, bacterial infections, allergies, acid reflux, etc.
- Use a humidifier, or steam with essential oils
- Use a natural throat spray, natural throat lozenge, or Vitamin C drop that will help heal, moisturize and clear your throat before speaking or singing
- Clear your sinuses of bacteria and snot with a neti pot
5 Don’ts to Prevent Losing Your Voice
- Avoid strained yelling, screaming, singing, speaking or whispering (there are healthy ways)
- Avoid smoking and second hand smoke (all smoking – including cigarettes, pot, cigars and pipes)
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, ice, dairy and nut butters 4 hours before speaking or singing
- Avoid antiseptic menthol throat sprays and lozenges that numb and dehydrate
- Avoid clearing your throat (try a swallow, small cough, or warm liquids)
Learning to take care of your voice with these healthcare and voice training tips will help you prevent vocal health issues, so that you can make sure you’ll be able to use your voice every day to fully live your life and do your work.