Interpreter Health: Take Care of Your Voice - Hearing and Speech Agency

Interpreter Health: Take Care of Your Voice

Today is Interpreter Appreciation Day!  Whether communicating medical, legal, or social messages, interpreters bridge the gap to make these interactions possible. As part of the celebration, I put together some tips to share with our team at CIRS Interpreting so that they can protect their voices as well as their hands. 

  • STAY HYDRATED. It is recommended to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. Try to create a habit of having a water bottle and snacking on water-dense foods such as cucumbers, watermelon, and apples. Humidifiers are a great way to accommodate for dry air in poorly ventilated work environments. Invest in a humidifier for your home, office, or even your car to sneak in some extra hydration for your body.
  • ALLERGY/ILLNESS MANAGEMENT. Not only do allergies and illness impact resonance and voice quality, but many medicines contain ingredients that can be harmful to your vocal folds, if overused (i.e. menthol, benzocaine). Talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your seasonal symptoms in an effort to decrease associated phonotraumatic behaviors like coughing and throat clearing.
  • LIMIT IRRITANTS. External irritants such as smoke, dust, and mold can be as harmful as internal irritants like acid reflux. If you’re prone to reflux, try to avoid triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, and spicy foods.
  • USE AMPLIFICATION. The louder and longer you use your voice, the more at risk you are to fatigue, decreased quality, and even vocal pathologies. Use amplification whenever possible, especially when speaking over a large audience and for extended periods of time.
  • RELAX YOUR VOICE. Just as sleeping provides the opportunity for your whole body to recharge, vocal rest is just as important for your health. Taking vocal breaks throughout the day, paired with deep diaphragmatic breaths and upper head and neck stretches can help provide much-needed rest and recuperation for your hard-working voice.

If you are experiencing hoarseness, reduced volume or pitch range, a “lump” sensation, tension and/or pain, then you may benefit from seeking services from a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to manage symptoms and prevent further damage. An SLP and an ENT can collaborate to diagnose and treat vocal pathologies such as nodules, swelling, cysts, and polyps. Education and identification of risk factors are key in developing an individualized approach to vocal care, especially for highly talkative professionals, like interpreters.  

Improving vocal endurance and preventing future pathologies often involves the adoption of healthy habits as well as consistently practicing vocal function exercises to strengthen the mechanism and encourage more efficient use of voice.

Sara Frederick is a Speech-Language Pathologist at The Hearing and Speech Agency.

Hearing and Speech AgencyHarry and Jeanette Weinberg Building 5900 Metro Drive Baltimore, MD 21215 410.318.6780