SHHH… GIVE IT A REST! Many Americans put heavy demands on their voices. Salespeople often stay on the phone all day long without breaks. Teachers continue to lecture even when they're tired. Performers sing loudly to please a crowd. The result can be a sore and hoarse voice. Your vocal cords touch gently every time you make a sound. "We're very demanding on our voices," Jeffrey Lehman, M.D., an otolaryngologist at the University of Central Florida and The Ear, Nose & Throat Surgical Associates in Orlando, Fla., told Ivanhoe. "We have a tendency to work hard, and we have a tendency to play hard, and so our voices are in a continual state of use." When you talk loudly or yell, your vocal cords slam together. If you talk a lot, your vocal cords continue rubbing together and are bound to get swollen and sore. "It's a matter of repetitive trauma," Dr. Lehman said. "Just like people who are sitting at a typewriter can have problems with carpal tunnel syndrome, we have the same thing with the vocal cords." Experts say that if you have hoarseness for two weeks and your voice hasn't gotten better, it's time to see an ear, nose and throat specialist.
DIAGNOSING THE PROBLEM: To diagnose a voice condition, doctors insert a small probe into the patient's mouth with a camera on the end of it. They use a special light source to view the subtle movement or changes of the vocal folds. "We look at movement of the vocal folds, vibration characteristics and what we call the function," Bari Hoffman-Ruddy, Ph.D., from the University of Central Florida and the Ear, Nose & Throat Surgical Associates, told Ivanhoe.
HOW TO SAVE YOUR VOICE: Voice conditions are a common problem. "I think almost everybody, I mean you could say almost 100 percent, have experienced at least a transient problem with their voice," Dr. Lehman said. To avoid any issues, try the following:
· Don't speak too loudly or too frequently: Recognize when your voice is tired.
· Avoid stress: Relaxation techniques can improve your voice and allow you to speak more effectively and longer.
· Avoid caffeine and alcohol: They can dehydrate vocal folds, which can cause tissue damage.
· Drink plenty of water: For every mug of coffee you ingest, drink at least one, eight-ounce glass of water.
· Don't smoke: Smoking is the leading cause of laryngeal cancer and it can irritate tissue used for singing and talking.
· Use a microphone: It will reduce the strain on your voice.
· Don't whisper: It can make your voice worse!
OTHER TREATMENTS: Vocal rest is one of the first treatments experts recommend. If symptoms persist, treatments may include medications, a modified diet plan and, in some cases, surgery.
For More Information, Contact:
Bari Hoffman-Ruddy, Ph.D.
University of Central Florida/
The Ear, Nose & Throat Surgical Associates
Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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