5 tips to protect your voice

woman lost her voice Approximately 18 million adults in the U.S. have voice problems, such as:

  • Raw, achy or strained throat
  • Repeated throat clearing
  • Trouble speaking
  • Loss of ability to hit high notes when singing

Your voice is created by the vibrations of two bands of muscle tissue called vocal folds, located inside the larynx, or voice box. The larynx sits right below the base of the tongue and above the trachea, or windpipe.

Taking care of your overall health is one of the best ways to protect your voice. Other tips include:

  • Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day
  • Not smoking and keeping away from secondhand smoke
  • Limiting caffeinated and alcoholic drinks
  • Using a humidifier at home, especially during winter or in dry climates
  • Avoiding or limiting medications that dry out the vocal folds, such as cold and allergy medicines

Some voice problems can result from overuse or misuse, including excessive shouting or whispering, singing or cheering. You might have problems as a result of an illness like an upper respiratory infection or gastric reflux, or GERD. Others can be caused by diseases such as growths on the vocal folds, head or neck cancer, or a neurological disorder like Parkinson’s disease.

If you’re experiencing a problem with your voice, your health care provider may refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) or a speech language pathologist.