What Is Vocal Hygiene
Vocal hygiene is the term used for the use and care of the human voice required to keep it healthy. When we talk about vocal hygiene, we are talking about increasing or decreasing behaviours and/or exposure to certain environments that promote a good voice and facilitate verbal communication. A healthy voice results from a combination of healthy voice behaviours and a healthy environment.
Hygiene for the body is a simple, periodic cleansing to keep dirt and germs at bay so that the body’s health remains strong and secure. To show how greatly the concept of hygiene has changed, consider that in Europe, prior to the black plague, it was thought that more, not less hygiene would encourage the incident of disease, as if the body stink would scatter the little bugs responsible for disease.
While we now know that clean hygiene is good for health, but also that a small inoculated dose of a disease will help build resistance to it, there is no doubt that hygiene for the voice is essential to maintain a good, healthy voice. There are no vaccinations to prevent vocal disorders, but there are good tips.
About vocal hygiene
What constitutes good vocal hygiene? Just as body hygiene is now common sense, vocal hygiene is an easy combination of conscientious activities.
The first and easiest, because it is a natural inclination, is to drink plenty of fluids. Water should be the first and most consumed liquid of choice available. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are also good. Avoid alcohol and caffeine drinks; these cause increased urination and dehydration, a defeat of the purpose. Limit carbonated drinks, many of which are caffeinated.
Stop smoking; its effects are destructive to the voice, at the very least.
Consume multiple servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains daily to provide moisture and essential vitamins and minerals.
Habitual coughing and clearing the throat are brutal on the vocal folds. If these are chronic conditions, seek medical help. If it just a nervous habit, break it. Find the cause of the nervousness and eliminate it.
Devote an adequate amount of time for sleep. Sustained sleep allows the body to reduce its metabolic rate. The body is not a perpetual-motion machine; nor is the voice. Most people do not talk during sleep and these vocal shutdown periods are good for the relaxation the vocal folds need.
Limit the frequency and duration of yelling or otherwise straining the voice. Be more mindful of this necessity if the throat is already stressed by illness or violation of an easy-going voice.
Good vocal hygiene is common sense and should be easy to maintain without a physician’s care. If speaking and singing are important, professional tools, it is best to keep them sharp and ready to use.
If you have questions about vocal hygiene contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We‘ll provide you with a simple, efficient and very effective routine targeted to your concerns.