Have you ever lost your voice? Does your voice get hoarse during allergy season? The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that approximately 7.5 million people in the U.S. have trouble using their voices. Voice problems tend to be more common in heavy voice users, such as teachers, lawyers, parents, pastors, and singers or in those who smoke tobacco and/or drink alcohol.
Signs that your voice may not be healthy can include:
- Raspy or hoarse quality
- Difficulty singing or singing notes that used to be easy
- Sudden changes in pitch, voice cutting out or fading away
- Throat often feeling raw, itchy, achy, or strained
- Effortful talking
For some people, voice problems resolve without the need for intervention within a short amount of time. If, however, voice problems persist for more than two weeks, it is important to seek medical attention.
Treatment of voice disorders varies depending on the cause and most can be treated successfully if diagnosed early. Your primary care physician may recommend that you see a specialist if your voice problems do not resolve. Depending on the cause and severity of your voice problem, the specialist may refer you to a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of voice disorders.
Voice problems should be evaluated and treated by a professional; however, here are some things you can do to keep your voice healthy:
- Don’t smoke
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid yelling, screaming, and loud talking
- Avoid excessive talking
- Take “voice naps” throughout the day
- Minimize throat clearing
- Rest your voice when sick
- Use amplification when speaking to large groups or singing
- Humidify your work and home environments
- Control reflux
If you suffer from allergies, this time of year can be tough on your throat and voice. Daily nasal saline irrigations can be a great way to clean out your sinuses and keep post-nasal drip under control. If you take antihistamines, be sure to drink extra water to stay hydrated as these medicines can dry out your throat and contribute to hoarseness. If you need more help managing allergy symptoms, contact your physician.
Reflux is a common cause of hoarseness. If you suffer from reflux or think you might, be sure to discuss reflux management options with your doctor.
For more tips to keep your voice healthy and strong, the speech-language pathologists of Greenville Ear, Nose & Throat Associates will provide a FREE lecture on Friday, April 29th from noon to 12:45 p.m. The lecture will take place in the Greenville Memorial Hospital’s Toomey Conference Center, Room 2. You are welcome to bring your lunch. The session is FREE, but registration is required. To register, call 1-877-Prisma Health-INFO (447-4636) or visit ghs.org/healthevents.
Alissa G. Yeargin, MSR, CCC-SLP is a certified Speech-Language Pathologists with Greenville Ear, Nose & Throat Associates. She specializes in evaluation and treatment of voice and swallowing disorders.