The Importance of Vocal Hygiene
What is vocal hygiene?
Vocal hygiene is the act of keeping your voice healthy. Just like we take certain steps to keep our bodies healthy and strong, the same is just as important and necessary for our voices. Some of the steps that can be taken to maintain vocal hygiene include:
● Avoid caffeine
● Avoid excess talking
● Avoid yelling and screaming
● Avoid whispering
● Eliminate habitual throat clearing
● Get enough rest
● Avoid smoking and any smoky environments
Our vocal folds are covered by a thin layer of mucous, which is essential for the vibration of the vocal folds – vibration is what causes voicing. To function properly, this layer needs to stay moist, which is why staying hydrated is so important. Caffeine is a diuretic and can have a drying effect, which is why it is best to avoid caffeine to maintain a healthy voice.
While breathing is not something we often think about, it is important to remember that breath support is essential to vocal hygiene. Make sure that you have any breath support for everything you say, so that by the end, you do not have a hoarse vocal quality. Pause, if necessary, to renew your breath, stand with correct posture to provide more support, and avoid breathing through your mouth. Breathing through your nose brings clean, warm, and moisten air to your vocal folds and lungs.
Pay attention to when your throat feels tired. Do not push yourself to talk for extended periods – it is important to rest your voice, just as it is important to rest your body. Furthermore, do not whisper! Whispering has a drying effect and can cause muscular tension. This causes trauma to your vocal folds. Excessive coughing, clearing, or sneezing, can also cause trauma to your vocal folds.
Getting enough sleep, taking a moment to rest during the day, and reducing stress all play important roles in maintaining vocal hygiene. Fatigue can affect our posture and the kind of voice one produces.
Lastly, evidence shows that smoking is directly related to laryngeal cancer. Laryngeal cancer directly affects the vocal folds and can have a negative effect on voice production. In addition, secondhand smoke also acts as an irritant to the vocal tract and lungs, so it is best to avoid smoky environments, too.
Following these simple steps every day will lead you to healthy vocal hygiene. Treating your voice gently will go a long way in preserving one of the most important parts of who you are: your voice! (Katherine Clark, M.S. CF-SLP)
Belin, G. M. (n.d.). Tips for Vocal Hygiene. https://www.gaylebelinslp.com/vocal_hygiene.html.
Clark, K. (n.d.). The importance of vocal hygiene. Sidekick Therapy Partners. https://www.mysidekicktherapy.com/blog/articles/importance-vocal-hygiene.