Did you know that approximately 7 million Americans experience some variation of a voice disorder and may not even realize it? Voice disorders are unfortunately terribly common, and the recurring symptoms often go unnoticed and untreated.
Many speech pathologists agree that women are more susceptible to voice disorders, often because they are more likely to be performing everyday duties that require them to talk often, for long hours on end. Consider that many teachers who speak for several hours a day are women, as are attorneys, doctors, secretaries, and administrative assistants. You could even argue that stay at home moms of growing children talk much throughout the day.
Voice health is also vital for most professional settings, regardless of sex. Consider how much sales representatives, politicians, and even local or national TV personalities all use their voices in everyday functional work roles.
But the symptoms for a voice disorder are especially coy. Of the most obvious symptoms is probably persistent pain or sore throats from regular speaking activities and efforts, or a lasting hoarseness and diminishing control of volume. The more veiled symptoms include a slight yet persistent (for months on end) cough or constant throat clearing.
Unfortunately, much of the typical American’s daily activities are catalysts for the onset of a significant voice disorder, and at the very least are irritants. Smoking can exasperate voice disorders a great deal; while so too can prolonged yelling or screaming.
Dr. DePasquale’s Tips for Taking Care of your Voice
Dr. DePasquale of St. Augustine Ear, Nose & Throat offers a handful of great tips for taking better care of your voice that can help you to avoid developing a long-term voice disorder.
- Drink plenty of water – water helps to coat the throat in ways that saliva simply won’t suffice.
- Use microphones when possible – think of the office manager who gathers around 50 people to make quick Monday morning announcements, usually by simply “speaking up” without the assistance of a microphone. PA systems and equipment are cheap and can dramatically reduce the threat of developing a voice disorder in regular, everyday speaking engagements.
- Use your diaphragm, not your voice – this is a practice that many professional singers and speakers use. Utilize your diaphragm rather than your throat to project your words, and regularly practice good breathing techniques.
- Avoid the obvious – straining your voice in a noisy crowd or environment, get plenty of rest and exercise regularly (in other words, practice health habits in all other aspects of your life), and consider eating less spicy foods, limit your intake of coffee and alcohol, and avoid extensive ingestion of mouth wash.
And of course, if you suspect you may have a voice disorder or are experiencing symptoms of a disorder developing, consider seeing an otolaryngologist, or a doctor who specializes in voice. Visit Dr. DePasquale in St. Augustine, Florida by contacting us and setting up a consultation today!