Friday, December 27, 2013

Care of Your Speaking Voice

You and your larynx... what you need to know
Vocal cordsYour voice reflects many different aspects of your personality. It's what makes you unique. Lifestyle choices and differences in daily vocal use or misuse can affect the health and stability of your vocal cords. We do know that the effects of smoking and drinking alcohol can have detrimental effects on the voice and may lead to cancer of the larynx.Keeping a healthy voice throughout your lifetime.
1.Don't smoke! Don't smoke! Don't smoke! Also, stay away from smoke-filled environments.
2.Hydration matters. Drink at least 8, 8-ounce glasses of water per day (64 ounces); more if you drink caffeine, alcohol, or if you're exercising. Hydration appears to affect voice in at least two ways. First, well-hydrated vocal cords vibrate with less "push" from the lungs. Second, well-hydrated cords resist injury from voice use more than dry cords, and recover better from existing injury than dry vocal cords. Increased systemic hydration also has the benefit of thinning thick secretions (Titze, 1988; Verdolini-Marston, Druker, & Titze, 1990; Verdolini, Titze, & Fennell, 1994; Verdolini et al., 2002; Titze, 1981; Verdolini-Marston, Sandage, and Titze, 1994).
3.Eliminate excessive throat clearing. Chronic throat clearing can result in irritation and swelling of the vocal cords. Try sipping water, humming, or using a "baby" throat clear.
Limit alcohol intake.
4.Alcohol irritates laryngeal epithelium and mucosa, and has been linked to laryngeal cancer risk.
5.Avoid vocally abusive behaviors.
  • Decrease overall volume; if you're talking one-on-one in a small room, talk quietly!
  • No shouting/yelling; find another way to let people know that it's dinner time or that they have a phone call!
  • Watch excessive phone talking; you may not realize how loud you're talking while on the phone. Ask your listener!
  • Don't whisper! It may actually make your voice worse!
  • Don't talk in the presence of a lot of background noise! Talk to someone only when they are an arm's length away.
  • Don't try to talk or sing when you have a bad cold or laryngitis.
6.Avoid chronic use of mouthwash.Most mouthwashes have a high alcohol content, which can be irritating to the larynx. If you wish, use mouthwash to rinse your mouth... if you must gargle, switch to a mouthwash without alcohol or use warm salt water.
7.Posture matters.Good posture allows better airflow and reduces tension and strain. Poor posture can be improved with an exercise program designed to strengthen and realign the body for optimal support.
Exercise regularly to keep your body, mind, and spirit healthy. Try yoga for the extra benefit of stretch, relaxation, and strengthening, as well as good posture.
9.Get sufficient sleep daily .Early to bed, early to rise makes your voice healthy and wise.
10.Always warm up your voice before or cool down after prolonged speaking or singing. Try quiet lip or tongue trills up and down your range, or softly and quietly hum five-note descending scales in the middle of your range.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sharp Pain - Front Neck (Daughter said stretch neck mom, heard THUMP)

I am a 53 year old woman .... hypothyroid, diabetes 2-Sjogrens. History of irregular cervical lymph nodes, and am in 5 days heading to an oncologist to evaluate lumps I have here there (crook of arms, and up to bicep and a large node left side in axilla that are painful. My voice keeps getting hoarse and dry cough. I DO NOT SMOKE OR DRINK......... BUT TONIGHT I was quite scared because a very QUICK SHARP PAIN upon exhale/inhale and speaking or laughing! My question is this: is there a condition, rather a scenario, possibly from edemas tissue from my GERD? or ??? that MIGHT cause some anatomy to catch in the front neck like inside that a nail scraping or a PINCH...... deep in front, possibly such as a spasm, deep inside front throat/neck.... larynx area then my baby girl, said MOM YOU LOOK scrunched up, stretch your neck and I felt a click/ but in ear hear this release or move out of spot? as a thud..... as it seemed to simply be a misplaced? Something that then became a "click free" pain went away....... it was a scary weird fast onset, pain I thought that's it, I am in trouble, I had been laughing and thought I BUSTED MY insides of this area.

On another factoid sometimes I hear a click click in throat along with the heart beat..... like 1x every 2 months for a hour? I am a sensitive flower. I would really appreciate some idea how to explain to the physician, I speak oddly and feel if I say too much, I become confusing, thank you.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...  

Although there are many symptoms of acid reflux that present in the head and neck area, I cannot say I would typically associate sharp pain with respiration with this condition. I would certainly suggest that you mention this incident to your physician.

Best of luck to you!

Singing Voice

After nose and throat surgery 2 years ago I am not able to sing soprano. My Dr. said I would be able to after a few months. Still no luck. Should I go back and be evaluated with my nose and throat Dr. about this?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Yes, I would recommend that you return to your surgeon for re-assessment.

Good luck!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nodules / Polyps / Cysts

I have been confused.  My voice range has decreased a bit and when I talk too much my throat starts to burn. I thought I had vocal nodules and went to an ENT.  He checked my vocal cords with a reflecting mirror & told me I had very small nodules but after 5 months I went to another ENT and he checked my vocal cords with an endoscope (camera).  He said there was nothing wrong with my vocal cords.  Then, the question is why has my voice range decreased a bit? My voice isn't hoarse but why is my voice range decreased a bit?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Difficulties with range are often simply a matter of technique, which can and does change over time, particularly in response to underlying structural changes such as vocal fold nodules. This is one reason why even professional singers continue to study with teachers of singing. If your physician feels that your larynx is healthy, I would suggest seeking out an experienced singing voice teacher.

Good luck!