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Vocal Hygiene

Brushing your teeth. Bathing every day. Washing your hands after using the restroom. These are all forms of hygiene that most adults practice regularly and are certain to instill in their own children as well. Although, one form of hygiene that people often dismiss is vocal hygiene. Taking steps to maintain a healthy voice is especially important for children. Children with abusive vocal behaviors can develop a breathy, hoarse, or “raspy” voice, which can be indicative of damage to the vocal folds, such as vocal nodules or polyps. Damaging the vocal folds can mean long-term voice issues that require therapy or even surgery.

Abusive vocal behaviors to watch out for in your children:

  • Throat clearing and/or coughing (may be secondary to allergies, illness, etc.)
  • Excessive crying or tantrums
  • Speaking loudly or yelling frequently Read more

All About Voice

With summer around the corner, I thought it would be a great time to remind parents about what it means to have a healthy voice! So many of the activities we choose to do in the warm weather can impact our vocal quality. Let’s start off by reviewing what is involved in having a voice.

How do we produce voice?: A person’s voice is a combination of respiration (i.e. breathing in and out) and phonation (i.e. making sound).

Two birds singingLet’s break it down even more! 
Respiration: Respiration involves taking the air in and out of your lungs. As the air travels from the lungs to the mouth, it passes the vocal cords (composed of both tissues and muscles). The vocal cords vibrate and this is called PHONATION!
Phonation: The sound that you hear when a person talks or sings.

Ways to maintain a healthy voice:

  1. Avoid talking in a funny voice – i.e. robot or monster voice
  2. Drink lots of water every day
  3. Avoid caffeine (e.g. pop, tea and coffee)
  4. Avoid clearing your throat or coughing
  5. Avoid yelling and screaming
  6. Avoid smoking and/or smoking environments
  7. Get plenty of rest!

Poor voice development can result from:

  1. Too much screaming, yelling, crying or laughing
  2. Excessive coughing and/or throat clearing
  3. Excessive loud talking and muscle tension
  4. Poor hydration

Warning signs of an unhealthy voice:

  1. Harsh or raspy voice
  2. Breathy voice
  3. Neck pain
  4. Body and voice fatigue

If you are concerned with your child’s voice, it’s important to talk to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist (ENT). They can use a special instrument to look at your child’s vocal cords. He/she may then recommend contacting a speech-language pathologist, who can complete a thorough voice evaluation and begin speech-language therapy.

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