What is Vocal Health and Vocal Hygiene?
Vocal Health and having Vocal Hygiene is a state in which our voice and vocal quality is free of any disorders and tension and works well for us. It is mainly achieved by having a healthy lifestyle, which keeps our vocal folds (cords, chords) healthy and in tip top condition.
Where are our Vocal folds?
Our vocal folds are found in the larynx, which some call the voice box. Having vocal health is of paramount importance and especially for professional voice users, who quite often suffer sore throats, hoarseness, dryness, laryngitis, excess mucus, anxiety, stress, soft and hard nodules, haemorrhaging, cysts, acid reflux, and many other such unwanted disorders. Many people don’t even know they have these unhealthy vocal conditions.
And who are these professional voice users?
Just about anyone who vocalises / speaks constantly and especially those using their voice for a living: teacher; actor; singer; call-centre operator/handler; clergy; public speaker; sports’ coach; playground assistant; barrister. Even new parents who are tasked with reading book after book to their children dry up or get hoarse. The list is endless really, isn’t it?
How can we help ourselves?
Our vocal folds are generally robust to withstand everyday chit chat, but for those who use their voices professionally, often need to vary the vocal quality to meet the demands of the job. The additional demands stretches the limits of the voice to the point of overuse and without a solid vocal technique, overuse can slide into vocal misuse and worst still vocal abuse. At this point we have some kind of vocal disorder ranging from vocal fold inflammation and swelling and sore throats, to hoarseness (dysphonia), huskiness, dryness, laryngitis, loss of voice (aphonia), excess mucus, anxiety, stress, soft and hard nodules, haemorrhaging, cysts, acid reflux to name but a few.
The list below are all potential hazards to our vocal folds but we can minimise the damage by adopting a healthy and hygienic vocal practice.
Tea, coffee, fizzy drinks (including soluble vitamin tablets), alcohol
Spicy, fatty, greasy, oily, sour, dairy foods
Smoking / Vaping 1st and 2nd-hand ie passive smoking and vaping
Medications / drugs
Excess body weight
Loud / quiet voice
Eating late at night
Dust, smoke, chemicals
Theatrical dry ice / smoke and other special stage effects
For the moment, suffice it to say that water is essential to vocal hygiene and vocal health.
Because it hydrates the body and ultimately the vocal folds. Water is systemic and what you drink today will hydrate the vocal folds tomorrow. Hydration goes a long way and will help prevent the onset of many voice / vocal disorders: sore throats, hoarseness, dryness, laryngitis, excess mucus, soft and hard nodules, haemorrhaging, cysts, polyps.