The “Daily 10” for a Healthy Voice

by Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. on May 30, 2011

Here is a summary of some things you can do to have a healthy, effective voice. You might have seen this post last August, but it merits a rerun every year because it has so many helpful suggestons!

These recommendations are important to observe all the time, and they are especially important if you have an allergy attack or a cold.  You’ll find more about all these topics in my other blog posts, but here’s a list for a quick reminder:

1. Practice abdominal-diaphragmatic breathing to decrease tension in the laryngeal area. (Check my video or my book, BROADCAST VOICE HANDBOOK, if you’re unclear on what this type of breathing is like.)

2. Keep your vocal tract moist by drinking half your body weight in ounces of fluid a day (for more on fluid intake ck out this earlier post.) These guidelines on healthy adults who exercise.  If you have any medical conditions that might be affected by a potassium-sodium imbalance you should get your doctor’s advice on fluid consumption.

3. Do not smoke or expose yourself to the smoke of others.

4. Limit throat clearing and coughing.  Did you read this post on the dangers of coughing?

5. Avoid milk products two hours before on-air work. Stop eating at least two hours before you go to bed to avoid the possibility of gastric reflux.

6. Do not talk loudly or yell in noisy environments such as sporting or music events.  Check out the second blog post below this one for a video about the damage yelling can cause in your throat.

7. Avoid mouth breathing except for speech.

8. If you do become hoarse, limit your talking and use a breathy voice not a whisper.

9. Use a pitch that is comfortable and does not cause vocal fatigue.  If you get hoarse after a day of voicing, you may be using an unnatural pitch.

10. See a physician if hoarseness, pain, or odd sensations in the throat last for more than two weeks.  Take hoarseness seriously.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Coon February 19, 2011 at 7:34 am

Dear Dr. Utterback:
Just wanted to say “Thank you” for taking time to post so many helpful and wise resources for keeping our voices healthy. I am adopting your exercises as part of my routine, starting today!
Sincerely,
Mike Coon

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. February 19, 2011 at 10:37 am

Thanks so much for your feedback, Mike. It made my day! I try to blog what I think readers want, and it’s good to find out I’m on track. Are there any voice topics you’d like to know more about? I’m open to suggestions for future blogs.
Thanks again for your feedback. Ann

Anne May 17, 2011 at 7:31 am

I have emphysema and take daily inhalers. Since then I have become very hoarse . My consultant says it is a “trade-off” I am sure he is right, but if there is something I can do to improve matters I would like to do it . I used to be quite a god singer, but now I croak ! I miss singing . Is there any hope for me ? Thank you

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. May 17, 2011 at 11:31 am

It sounds to me like your consultant is right that it’s a trade-off. I think you have to make the health issue your top priority and work with your doctor. It doesn’t hurt to do all the healthy vocal hygiene things you can do, though. Ck out my blog posts under the category of “Vocal Health” to read about some of them. Good luck with this….

Katherine March 5, 2015 at 10:40 am

Dear Ann,

I came to this late, so I don’t know if you will ever read this – but I weigh 148 pounds, and if I drank 74 ounces of water a day my potassium-sodium balance would be so terribly affected I could easily die from stroke or a heart attack. Most people would be at risk. That’s very, very poor medical advice, and I hope you decide even three years on to take that part of this advice down.

Ann S. Utterback, Ph.D. March 5, 2015 at 10:55 am

Katherine–I appreciate your comment about water intake. I think you will find that most sources follow the same ratio that I do. Here is an example from U.S. News and World Report: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/2013/09/13/the-truth-about-how-much-water-you-should-really-drink
You are correct that if you have any medical conditions that might be affected by a potassium-sodium imbalance you should get your doctor’s advice on fluid consumption. I’m basing my guidelines on healthy adults who exercise. I will add a note about the imbalance possibility to this post. I hope this clarifies my point on this.

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