Care of the Voice
Voice Problems Can Be Caused By:
§ Alcohol, coffee, tea, cola
§ Medication – penicillin can dry the voice
§ Trauma (bereavement, etc). It could be months after the event that the voice problem occurs.
§ Living/working conditions: Air conditioning, central heating, builder’s dust.
§ Disturbed sleep patterns
§ Lack of use
§ Prolonged use
§ Ageing (depends on general fitness and how well the voice has been used)
§ Indigestion – oesophageal reflux (heartburn). Eating late aggravates this.
§ Drink water – at least a litre a day – to keep hydrated. Dehydration = dark urine. Drink water at room temperature not iced.
§ Give up smoking, or at least cut down. You will have increased mucus for up to 2 months.
§ Don’t smoke marijuana or herbal cigarettes. They burn at a very high rate, which is not good for the vocal folds.
§ No heavy meals late at night, especially red meat, dairy/fatty foods.
§ After drinking alcohol, drink water. Red wine and beer create more mucus than other forms.
§ Cut down on full fat dairy food. It can clog up the voice.
§ Cut down on tea, coffee, cola. Use herb teas or hot water with lemon for a cold or sore throat
§ Warm the voice up before use (do some gentle humming and sliding up and down the scale).
§ Use steam (bath, shower or inhalation) to free the voice
§ If sleeping in a centrally heated room have water in it to humidify the air.
§ If acting amongst stage smoke, cosmetic dust, pyrotechnics, use extra hydration.
§ Avoid whispering. It doesn’t “save” the voice, but traumatises it more.
§ Avoid “clearing” the throat. Keep the throat relaxed and swallow instead.
§ Avoid aspirin. Use painkillers without it.
§ Avoid decongestants/nasal sprays, eucalyptus, menthol, etc. if you’re going to be acting or otherwise using your voice a lot. They are very drying.
§ Watch for increased mucus. If due to an infection this will be light yellow to green in colour. If clear it could mean a vocal problem.
§ Watch general health. The voice can be affected by:
o Jaw/dental work
o Neck/spine injuries
o Injuries to shoulders/rib cage (weakened breath support) and even foot, knee or hip injuries
o Operations in stomach area
o Severe diarrhoea (weakened abdominal support)
o Emotional trauma (being aware of this problem alone can help)
§ throat pain (without infection)
§ pain when speaking
§ pain when swallowing
§ voice tiring more easily than usual
§ hoarse voice (without infection)
§ erratic or “stuck” pitch
§ warm-up taking longer
§ complete or partial loss of voice
See your GP and ask to be referred to a laryngologist.
Treat your voice to the occasional spell of silence. NO WHISPERING!
Useful Sources of Further Information on Voice and Speech
Voice Care Network UK, 29 Southbank Road, Kenilworth, Warwickshire CV8 1LA. Tel/fax: 01926 864000 e-mail: email@example.com web site: www.voicecare.org.uk
British Voice Association, Institute of Laryngology and Otology, 330 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8EE. Telephone: 020 7713 0064 Fax: 020 7915 1388
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: www.british-voice-association.com
The Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama, 73 Berry Hill Road, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire NG18 4RU, e-mail: email@example.com. Website: www.stsd.org.uk.
The Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, 1st Floor, Linton House, 39-51 Highgate Road, London NW5 1RS. Tel: 0845 230 7828 Fax: 020 7482 5435 Website: www.stat.org.uk
Toastmasters International (speaker’s clubs): www.toastmasters.org