Everyday misuse of the voice is problematic. Bad habits can lead to swelling of the vocal cords and growths called nodules or polyps, which may result in a poor vocal quality.
Voice therapy only helps if bad habits are eliminated.
Vocal abuse involves straining the vocal cords by screaming, yelling, coughing, or clearing the throat. It is abusive when one speaks too much, talks with excessive force or “pushes” the air out. Straining the voice to imitate noises like car and plane engines, sirens and screeching brakes is also abusive.
Vocal misuse is speaking too loudly or at a pitch that is too low or high, or shouting to be heard over background noise.
Here are some practical, universal suggestions for “vocal hygiene”. These suggestions may protect one’s voice:
1. Talk in a voice that is soft, but not a whisper. This kind of voice allows the vocal cords to come together gently.
2. Clear your throat only when you must, and then do so gently. Hum first…then gently clear your throat.
3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. A moist throat is better protected from irritation while talking. This also helps avoid problems which lead to coughing and throat clearing.
4. Avoid foods that may cause reflux (chocolate, tomato-based, citrus) especially before lying down. Eating small meals may be helpful. It may be beneficial to elevate the head of your bed.
5. Try a humidifier or vaporizer at home. This helps to maintain humid air to breathe. Keep it clean.
6. Warm up your voice before singing by humming gently.
7. Limit talking when you have an upper respiratory infection, laryngitis, or a cold. See a Pediatric ENT if hoarseness persists after a cold is gone.
8. Regular aerobic exercise is important for an optimal voice. Try not to grunt.
9. Avoid background noise and noisy places as you may have a tendency to shout. Avoid talking from room to room.
10. Avoid smoky / dusty places.
11. Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
12. Reward good vocal habits.
NYC Speech Therapists that Specialize in Voice Therapy:
Please note this list does NOT include me, as I specialize in language and articulation / oral motor therapy with children. Good luck!!
For children of all ages
Multiple Locations throughout NYC
NYU Voice Center
For ages 11 and up
345 East 37th StreetSuite 306
New York, NY 10016
For younger children, NYU Rusk
New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai
For ages 3 and up
380 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Christine Estes, MM, MA-CCC/SLP
Ages 7 and Up
Sean Parker Institute for the Voice
Weill Cornell Medicine
240 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
Linda M. Carroll
Ages 5 and Up
424 West 49th Street Suite 1
New York, NY 10019