By our Smarty friends at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates
Unfortunately for many of us, the first time we notice our voice is when we lose it. Have you ever experienced a strained voice for days after shouting your support for your favorite sports team? Or have you suffered with laryngitis after your cold or flu had resolved? For others, the voice may become chronically strained by the daily vocal demands of being a teacher, lawyer or Mom.
Darrell Klotz, MD, at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates says that hoarseness can be acute or chronic, and is commonly caused by the formation of benign lesions such as nodules, polyps, cysts or generalized swelling of the vocal folds due to vocal abuse or overuse. Each time we speak, clear our throat or utter any sound, our vocal folds contract each other briefly. If this contact is excessively forceful or straining, nodules, polyps and cysts can occur. Exposure to irritants (acid reflux, air pollution, allergies, smoke, etc…) can also contribute significantly by causing excessive throat clearing or irritation to the surfaces of the vocal folds. For many of us, the risk for voice strain describes our everyday life – talking during a full day of work, taking care of our family in the evening, extracurricular activities such as sports, or catching up with friends and squeezing in a quick, heartburn-producing meal between it all!
Treatment of voice disorders typically involves the use of medications, voice therapy and possible surgery. “Voice therapy can strengthen weak vocal folds and can also reduce tension, improve the coordination of our breathing and speaking, resulting in a much more powerful, confident and reliable voice” states Dr. Klotz. There are simple steps you can take to maintain a strong, healthy voice. First, drink at least 64 ounces of water per day and increase your water intake if you consume a large quantity of caffeinated beverages. Again, be sure to drink extra fluids when taking anything that may cause dryness such as allergy medication, antidepressants and some asthma inhalers. Secondly, proper posture, synchronized deep-breathing, and relaxed neck muscles are all important. Finally, don’t overlook the fact that you may simply be over-doing it. Avoid over-use of your voice during sinus infections, colds, sore throats, etc…
If you are already experiencing chronic hoarseness (i.e., more than two weeks), sudden loss of voice, pain, difficulty swallowing, or loss of range in singing, you may be experiencing a condition that requires medical attention. Assessment of your voice disorder at The Voice Center at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates will help ensure that you are not doing further damage to your voice.
Call 704-295-300 today to schedule an appointment. Or even better, check out this event coming up on April 26th, World Voice Day 2014 Voice Matters, sponsored by CEENTA (RSVP required):