Vicious Cycle of Vocal Abuse

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on September 17, 2015

I had a client this week who told me she had two wedding weekends to attend this month.  She was surprised when I told her that these were a perfect set up for the ominous-sounding cycle of  the “vicious cycle of vocal abuse.”  This  is what happens when you have to talk more than usual (and often more loudly) and don’t think you can stop and rest your voice.  Busy wedding weekends are not the only times it can happen.  Think family reunion, convention, or super busy voicing or reporting period.  You might get a little hoarse at first, and that’s when the cycle begins.

When you are hoarse, continuing to talk can throw you into the vicious cycle of vocal abuse:  You are hoarse, so you try even harder to talk, which makes you even hoarser, and on and on.  Not many of us would run a marathon with tight shoes and continue running the next day despite the blisters and calluses that had developed.  All too often, however, we may insist we have to keep talking even with a hoarse voice.  By doing so, we are damaging our vocal folds in the same way we would damage our feet by running when they are red and swollen.  Talking while you are hoarse can have long-lasting effects and may cause permanent damage to the delicate vocal fold (cord) tissue.

Vocal rest is the best treatment for hoarseness and vocal fatigue. It is better for your voice to take time off for vocal rest when you first become hoarse instead of falling into the vicious cycle of vocal abuse.  It is like the old saying, “Pay me now or pay me later.”  At some point, you are going to have to rest your throat.  Since your vocal folds are so important for your job, I suggest you take steps to take care of your throat as soon as you feel hoarseness developing.

First, limit your talking as much as possible.  And drink plenty of fluids.  Check out my post to gauge how much is needed.  All of this will help, but if at all possible, take a day off to rest your voice completely.

Take hoarseness seriously.  Remember that your job depends on your voice so take care of it!

To learn more about taking care of your voice, take a minute and download my free mp3 that gives you lots more tips to maintain a healthy voice.

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