Snippet: A neglected form of abuse for singers is vocal abuse. Knowingly or unknowingly people indulge in activities that ultimately takes a toll on the voice. So if you are a vocalists here are 11 absolute ways to protect your vocal health.
Avro Pärt, one of the most highly acclaimed contemporary Estonian singer composer once said that the human voice is the most perfect instrument ever. However, global statistics vouch that voice abuse is one of the most neglected form of abuses which turns deadly especially in case of occupational voice users.
A report published by University of Sydney modern society says, over 30% occupations demand the use of voice in some way or other. In Australia, it has been estimated that over 4% of population experiences voice disorders every year. In another survey, it was shown that around 16% of surveyed teachers experienced vocal issues during the time of survey while 19% reported to face similar problems at a certain point in their career.
It is nothing unknown that singers and vocalists are the biggest victim of voice loss. Now the quants are alarming and if you are into singing, then stop ignoring your vocal health. It just takes a couple of healthy habits and changes in your daily routine to avoid all risks of voice loss, voice nodule, acute laryngitis, voice paralysis, and vocal cord hemorrhage.
Absolute pro-tips to protect your voice
- Hydration, hydration and hydration
Water is regarded as the synonym for life. However, amongst the various properties of water what you may not know is that it helps in maintaining the hydration level of vocal chords. Always remember that when it’s said water, don’t think liquid substitutions like caffeine or booze might do the same.
In fact when your vocal chords are vibrating really fast, you need to hydrate to make sure that there are no high quantities of mucus causing exertion and trauma to your vocal chords. However substances like caffeine acts a diuretic. It is advisable that you drink at least eight glasses per day.
- Voice exercises
Just like every other parts of your body, your vocal chords need exercises and light warm ups too, especially before an audition or stage show. You can start warming up by practicing your classical skills by staccatos, glissando, and messa di voice.
- Vocal naps
Knowing when to stop is important especially if you are a vocalist. Always remember that your vocal chords have some finite capabilities and they cannot perform from morning to evening for days effortlessly. So hibernate occasionally.
- Ample sleep
Adults need around 7 to 9 hours sleep for a complete rejuvenated body. And not getting proper sleep has a direct effect in voice disorders especially with acute laryngitis and voice hoarseness.
Laryngitis means inflammation in vocal chords while hoarseness leads to a strained tired over exerted voice which leads to chronic and acute trauma. A recent study conducted over a population in South Korea showed that a sleep duration of less than 5 hours had significant impact on long term dysphonia.
- Quit smoking
The lethal effects of smoking on health and environment are known to all. But what you might not know is that those drags you are taking other than filling up your lungs with nicotine tar are also causing temporary swelling to your vocal chords. Cigarettes in both active and passive forms are lethal for preserving voice.
However, it’s not easy to get over cigarettes. Mere willpower doesn’t help in most cases. Sometimes you need a helping hand to kick bad habits out of your lifestyle. Here, few smoking alternatives like nicotine patches, NRT or vaping can be a helping hand. So choose your option wisely and next time when you get the urge for smoking try an alternative like vaping instead. The low nicotine filled e-cigarettes juices doesn’t post that much of harmful impact to your vocal chords and will also help you kicking the cigarette butts.
- Maximize the use of mic
Having a sound and powerful voice is a gift. But overusing it for extended period of time might lead you into pits. Most of the shows nowadays have extensive sound equipment so tune your voice according to the mic and make the most of it.
- Monitoring your voice
Make listening to your voice a regular habit. Voice monitoring is extremely important as you can find out when you are over pitching and also if there is even a slight issue take a note of it and visit ENT immediately.
- Posture and breathing control
Maintaining the proper posture while singing and practicing to breathe while singing is extremely important. Maintaining the proper flow of inhalation and exhalation during strenuous vocal cord vibrations is extremely important to avoid overexertion. Practice basic and advanced breathing exercises regularly
- Always keep your neck and chest areas warms
Viruses are present everywhere and can contaminate from any part of the body. However, as a professional singer your throats are always tired and vulnerable to infections. So always keep your chest and neck areas warm. Use a silk scarf for summers both outdoors and indoors while acrylic or cotton ones in winter. Carry sweatshirts or hoodies during gigs.
- Stop idiopathic abuses
Now, this doesn’t need further elaboration that booze and substance abuse are off the table. However, some common medications should also be avoided for protecting your voice. These include:
- Antihistamines, antidepressants, decongestants etc. as they cause dryness in throat
- Avoid taking OTC anaesthetics or pain medications as they reduce the nerve senses causing numbness in your vocal cords and you might accidentally damage them
- Avoid antacids for acid refluxes as acid refluxes flowing backwards to the throat can damage the vocal cords.
Avoid too much of air-conditioning or heater or any artificial atmosphere controlling devices. Aeroplanes have a drying effect on vocal chords so be sure to be hydrated before flying long distances. If possible use humidifiers in your house.
To wrap it
Along with following all these pro tips don’t forget to get a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and increase your immunity for an overall healthy body and healthy voice.
Lynda Arbon is a passionate and enthusiastic health blogger. She likes keeping herself updated on health trends and blogs. Her favourite pastime is learning history and solving crossword puzzles. Follow her on Twitter.