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Taking Care of Your Voice

Surgery or radiation therapy in the head and neck area can result in voice changes. A hoarse voice is also known as dysphonia.

The following are some suggestions to guide you in taking care of your voice, and overcoming and preventing some voice problems.

Keep hydrated

Our vocal cords need to keep hydrated to work effectively. Air-conditioning and breathing through the mouth can increase dryness in our vocal tracts. Caffeine, alcohol, and some medication can also cause dehydration. Good hydration keeps the vocal cords moist both internally and on the surface.

  • Drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day.
  • Sip small amounts of water frequently throughout the day.
  • Take caffeinated drinks in moderation.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks.
  • Keep a humidifier at the corner of your desk or beside your bed.
  • Individual steam inhalers can also moisten the surface of vocal cords.

Use your voice well

Overuse of our voice can lead to new or worsened voice problems. Being careful of the way we use our voice and our conversation environment can help protect our voice from further voice problems.

  • Choose quiet environments to talk in.
  • When you have to talk for extended periods of time, rest your voice with short breaks of silence.
  • Avoid lengthy phone conversations. Use email or text instead.
  • Speak at a moderate volume. Avoid whispering or shouting.
  • When you lose your voice, avoid straining to get a voice out. Rest your voice instead.

Avoid irritants

Our vocal cords are very sensitive to irritation. Dust and some chemicals can cause inflammation. Throat clearing and coughing can also cause trauma to the vocal cords.

  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid environments that contain smoke, paint, dust and other irritants.
  • Work with your doctors to manage and avoid gastric reflux.
  • Avoid coughing and throat clearing. Do a hard swallow instead.

Besides the above suggestions, your speech therapist can also work with you on voice therapy exercises and other voice care practices to optimise your voice quality.