Vocal hygiene is the term used for the use and care of the human voice required to keep it healthy. Though most people can get through life without ever thinking about vocal hygiene, individuals who put extra strain on their voices must keep their vocal mechanism in better condition. This can be especially true if an injury has occurred, even if the individual previously had no extraordinary voice needs.
Voice hygiene intervention teaches patients how to take care of their vocal fold tissue in general, independent of how they talk. Usually, this involves learning how to keep the vocal fold tissue moist and free from irritants.
- Maintain the vitality of the vocal fold mucosa.
Hydration is the most important concept. The mucosal covering of the vocal folds must be wet and slippery in order to vibrate optimally. There are two kinds of hydration to maintain: 1) systematic hydration, i.e. the internal hydration of the entire body that keeps the skin, eyes, and all other mucosal tissue healthy; and 2) topical, or surface hydration, i.e. the moisture level that keeps the epithelial surface of the vocal folds slippery enough to vibrate up to 1700 times per second! Moist vocal folds appear to vibrate with the least amount of effort or “push” from the lungs. Moisture may protect the vocal folds from injury and help to reverse existing injury.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.
Luckily, water is anything that isn’t caffeinated or alcoholic. If you drink caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, increase your water to compensate. Obviously, there may be health risks with consuming too much caffeine or alcohol, but in moderate amounts they are not damaging per se. Rather, it is the dehydrating effects that can be damaging to vocal health
- Keep your salivary glands stimulated.
- Sip on liquids all day long.
- Chew gum, suck on hard candies.
- Don’t bother with cough drops that have “vapor action” – they’re rather drying.
Adequate water intake to lubricate body tissues, regular exercise and well balanced diet are positive aspects of vocal hygiene and contribute to the overall success of voice use. Like dental hygiene is a daily routine to keep voice functioning at its highest and most efficient level.