Vocal Health

Overuse And Abuse Of The Voice.

How you treat your voice, and the care that you take of it, will directly impact your vocal health.

Vocal disorders, such as chronic laryngitis, hoarseness, nodules, polyps and more, are often caused by vocal overuse or abuse. If your voice is gravelly, tired or hoarse, other triggers, such as flus or colds, asthma or allergies, can make the problem much worse. If you use your voice sensibly and with correct technique, for example, nodules will not form.

There are warning signs that vocal health has been compromised. If you recognise some of the symptoms below, restrict your vocal use until you have properly recovered. Continuing to sing, especially on “gigs” may lead to long-lasting damage.

Causes of Vocal Problems And Vocal Damage.

  • Singing for too long or too loudly.
  • Continuing to use your voice when you should be resting it.
  • Singing in a pitch that’s too low or too high.
  • Using incorrect singing technique.
  • Bad singing habits (such as incorrect tongue position, mouth not open enough and more).

Remedial Actions For Vocal Problems.

Warm up before you sing.

Correct your technical problems, such as posture and head position.

When recovering, start off slowly, with random humming, lips trills and sliding exercises in your mid range. Gradually increase the amount of time spent doing these exercises over several days.

Professional singers should save their voice for the job. If they’re in recovery, minimise social vocal use. Plan vocal breaks. Try to use your voice wisely.

Recovery times depends upon the severity of the damage.

For example, fibrous nodules recover more slowly as does recovery following vocal surgery. Normally, a minimum of six weeks recovery time should be allocated, depending on the advice of your doctor, otolaryngologist or your vocal rehabilitation professional.

How to Survive Voice Loss, Flu, Colds, or Voice Hoarseness.

Please note: These tips are not designed to be a replacement for seeing your doctor.

  • Don’t sing until you are well
  • Steam inhalations to soothe inflammation
  • Rest.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid substances that cause dehydration, such as tea, coffee and alcohol. Also menthol may have a drying effect on your vocal cords/folds.
  • Take Vitamin C either by tablet or by consuming vitamin C rich fruits.
  • Add grated fresh ginger (which has an anti-inflammatory effect) to hot water. Add honey if sweetening required.
  • Steam Inhalation, with a few drops of Eucalyptus, may help clear blocked sinuses.

As you recover, slowly build your vocal exercises, for 5-10 minutes per day. If you voice becomes hoarse, stop immediately for a further few days before trying again.

Learn more about Pedagogy (the Science of Singing Technique) or Repairing Vocal Damage.