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Voice Hygiene

Voice Hygiene - What it is


The SGH Voice Clinic


This handout contains tips for good vocal hygiene. Maintaining good vocal hygiene is essential in prevention of vocal fold injuries (especially in times of high voice demands), as well as facilitating reVoice Hygiene Singapore General Hospitalcovery from vocal cord surgery. Not all of the ideas will apply to you. Your Laryngologist / Voice Therapist will tailor the vocal wellness advice to meet your specific needs.

Well-hydrated vocal folds vibrate more easily than dry vocal folds, and are less likely to be injured. Keep your vocal folds hydrated from within and on the surface.

  • Drink enough WATER (not juice, tea, etc.). The recommended amount of water per day is at least 1.5 – 2 litres.
  • Take frequent sips, instead of only drinking when your throat is dry.
  • Balance out every caffeinated drink with an equal amount of water.
  • Eat lots of “wet foods” (e.g. apples, vegetables, soups, etc.).
  • Use a humidifier in your room at night.
  • Do steam inhalation to moisten the surface of your vocal folds.

Laryngo-pharyngeal reflux (LPR) occurs when stomach acid and digestive enzymes spills onto the larynx (voice box). This acid can irritate the vocal folds, and increase mucus and the sensation of throat discomfort. To reduce LPR:

  • Avoid spicy, fried, fatty, acidic, and caffeinated foods and drinks.
  • Other culprits include citrus, chocolate, nuts, tomato-based foods, and full-cream dairy products.
  • Avoid eating 3-4 hours before bedtime / lying down.
  • Avoid or minimise alcohol intake.

To minimise irritation to vocal folds, which are very sensitive:

  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Limit exposure to chemicals e.g. cleaning supplies, paint, dust, pollution, etc.
  • Avoid menthol, mint and eucalyptus lozenges. Try fruit or honey flavours instead.

Phonotrauma refers to injury to the vocal folds associated with voice use.

Examples include screaming, shouting, telephone use, and speaking in loud environments (e.g. restaurants, parties, meetings). Know that these are “danger zones” for the voice.

  • Limit talking where there is increased background noise such as music, machine noise, or other people talking.
  • Stand closer to the person you are talking to.
  • Whistle or use gestures to get someone’s attention.
  • Get up and move towards the person you are talking to, instead of shouting from another room.
  • Tune in to how your voice is feeling, rather than trying to hear it above the noise. Feelings of throat fatigue, dryness, soreness, or strain are red flags.
  • Avoid forceful coughing and throat clearing. Instead, do a hard swallow (with your saliva, or take a sip of water).
  • Portable and good quality microphones are available for teachers.

Vocal fatigue
When your voice feels tired, here are a few tips:

  • Take a vocal “nap”. If you speak for a long period of time, give yourself a 5-minute (or longer) break without any talking.
  • Use email or text, instead of calling.
  • On days with heavy voice use, rest your voice with times of quiet and silence.
    You may need to do warm-ups and cool-downs for the voice and shoulder/neck/jaw muscles. A voice therapist can guide you with these recommendations.

Overall health
Your voice is part of your body. It is also linked to your feelings and state of mind. So if your body is tired, or you’re not feeling well, that might impact your voice.

  • Recognise when you are stressed or feeling tired.
  • Stretch periodically throughout the day. Do some exercise; this can be as simple as taking a walk!
  • De-stress. Take time to take care of yourself.
  • Prioritise sleep. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
  • If you get sick, drink plenty of water, rest, and limit voice use.


Voice Hygiene - Symptoms

Voice Hygiene - How to prevent?

Voice Hygiene - Causes and Risk Factors

Voice Hygiene - Diagnosis

Voice Hygiene - Treatments

Voice Hygiene - Preparing for surgery

Voice Hygiene - Post-surgery care

Voice Hygiene - Other Information

The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth

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