World Executives Digest | In whatever position you work in, your voice is an extremely valuable resource and is the most commonly used form of communication. Proper care and use of your voice improves the likelihood of having a healthy voice for your entire lifetime.
Voice care advocates Pocholo Gonzales and Ada Cuaresma, the main proponents of Voice Care Philippines, say that as a powerful but delicate instrument, you can both protect your voice and use it to your best advantage.
Voice Care Philippines is a non-profit organization that specializes on the human voice. They focus on the prevention of voice problems by providing voice care workshops which help participants reach their full potential while maintaining healthy vocal practices. Since its founding, the Voice Care Philippines team has traveled to various parts of the Philippines to conduct their Voice Care for Teachers workshop. From Luzon (Baguio, Pampanga, Tarlac, Bulacan, Bataan, Cavite), Visayas (Iloilo) and Mindanao (Bukidnon, Zamboanga), thousands of teachers have learned the science and art of voice, and how it can be applied to their vocation.
Some 7 million Americans have some type of voice disorder, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. In the Philippines, many voice disorders remain unchecked.
How do you determine if you have an unhealthy voice? Ask yourself these questions:
- Has your voice become hoarse or raspy?
- Does your throat often feel raw, achy, or strained?
- Does talking require more effort?
- Do you find yourself repeatedly clearing your throat?
- Do people regularly ask you if you have a cold when in fact you do not?
- Have you lost your ability to hit some high notes when singing?
A wide range of problems can lead to changes in your voice. Seek a physician’s care when voice problems persist.
According to doctors , voice changes sometimes follow an upper respiratory infection lasting up to two weeks. Typically, the upper respiratory infection or cold causes swelling of the vocal cords and changes their vibration resulting in an abnormal voice.
Reduced voice use (voice rest) typically improves the voice after an upper respiratory infection, cold, or bronchitis. If voice does not return to its normal characteristics and capabilities within two to four weeks after a cold, a medical evaluation by an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist is recommended.
A throat examination after a change in the voice lasting longer than one month is especially important for smokers. (Note: A change in voice is one of the first and most important symptoms of throat cancer. Early detection significantly increases the effectiveness of treatment.)
Tips for maintaining a healthy voice
Drink plenty of water. Moisture is good for your voice. Hydration helps to keep thin secretions flowing to lubricate your vocal cords. Drink plenty (up to eight 8-ounce glasses is a good minimum target) of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day.
Try not to scream or yell. These are abusive practices for your voice, and put great strain on the lining of your vocal cords.
Warm up your voice before heavy use. Most people know that singers warm up their voices before a performance, yet many don’t realize the need to warm up the speaking voice before heavy use, such as teaching a class, preaching, or giving a speech. Warm-ups can be simple, such as gently gliding from low to high tones on different vowel sounds, doing lip trills (like the motorboat sound that kids make), or tongue trills.
Don’t smoke. In addition to being a potent risk factor for laryngeal (voice box) cancer, smoking also causes inflammation and polyps of the vocal cords that can make the voice very husky, hoarse, and weak.
Use good breath support. Breath flow is the power for voice. Take time to fill your lungs before starting to talk, and don’t wait until you are almost out of air before taking another breath to power your voice.
Use a microphone. When giving a speech or presentation, consider using a microphone to lessen the strain on your voice.
Listen to your voice. When your voice is complaining to you, listen to it. Know that you need to modify and decrease your voice use if you become hoarse in order to allow your vocal cords to recover. Pushing your voice when it’s already hoarse can lead to significant problems. If your voice is hoarse frequently, or for an extended period of time, you should be evaluated by an Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, and Throat physician.)
To know more about the services being offered at the Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders of The Medical City, please go to http://www.themedicalcity.com/services/ear-nose-and-throat-center. Or you may visit or call the Center at 2/F Nursing Tower, The Medical City, tel. No.: 988-1000/988-7000 Local 6467.