Peace, Love, and Vocal Health - Hearing and Speech Agency

Peace, Love, and Vocal Health

I’ll always remember my Vocal Health Hygiene lecture as an undergraduate at Towson University when Dr. Celia Bassich encouraged us to be “HIPpies”. She created this acronym to encourage her students and patients to Hydrate properly and limit Irritants and Phonotrauma.

At the end of a long day when your “voice hurts”, that could be a sign of temporary or continued damage to your vocal folds. Typically, it’s because you may not be adequately hydrated. You may be consuming too many dehydrating substances, like caffeine and alcohol, without replenishing with good-old-fashioned H20. To combat dehydration, you can try crunching on “wet-snacks” such as watermelon, grapes, and apples or even using a humidifier in your office or home. Shameless plug: If you’re a HASA employee, we invite you to join us on April 12 for "Wet Snack Wednesday" in the Clinic Library (room 290)!

More serious vocal damage can result from continued exposure to external irritants such as smoke, mold, dust, and chemicals and even internal irritants, resulting from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). If you experience consistent exposure these damaging substances, lifestyle changes may be warranted. If you work around chemical irritants, be sure to always wear a mask! If you notice frequent heartburn, take your time when eating, give yourself time to digest before lying down, and limit intake of “triggering” foods. These can include onions, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, citrus juices, as well as fried and spicy foods.

Phonotraumatic behaviors encompass all the ways your voice can be misused. Persistent yelling, whispering, throat clearing, coughing and using hard onsets and glottal fry (crackly quality) may result in inflammation or even lesions. Making an effort to decrease these behaviors and rest your voice can go a long way. If you can’t avoid speaking for lengthy periods of time, consider a voice amplification system.

If you’re experiencing continued tightness, soreness, or a hoarse vocal quality, don’t ignore it! An ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor) and a Speech-Language Pathologist can collaborate to determine the best way to help your voice. To learn more about vocal health, quality, and pathologies, contact HASA’s Clinical Services Department.

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