Methods for Improving Vocal Hygiene

  • Increase your intake of liquids
    • Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water per day.
    • Avoid caffeinated beverages, which can be drying.
    • Use a bedroom humidifier.
    • Chew gum or suck on hard candy.
    • Use a hot shower for additional moist air.
  • Reduce throat clearing and coughing
    • These cause irritation, swelling and bruising of vocal cords.
    • They are habits that can be changed.
    • Count instances of throat clearing and coughing.
    • Note situations that trigger them.
    • Avoid these situations, or avoid speaking in such situations.
    • Substitutions for throat clearing/coughing include dry swallow (swallowing saliva), drinks of water, and gargling.
  • Use your voice at a moderate level of loudness.
    • Do not whisper, this is more stressful on your vocal cords.
    • Never shout.
    • Eliminate excess loud laughter.
    • Be within reaching distance of your listener.
    • Face your listener.
    • Do not speak over background noise (TV, music, machinery)
    • Use non-vocal signals to get attention of those far away.
    • Make your point with gesture or facial expressions, not loudness.
  • Avoid alcohol
    • Alcohol makes vocal cords more likely to swell or hemorrage.
    • It dries out tissues, causing production of thick mucous.
    • Increased mucous leads to increased throat clearing.
  • Do NOT smoke.
    • Smoking is the ultimate abuse of your throat.
    • Help is available – ask your doctor.
  • Avoid irritating environments.
    • Breathing dust and dry heated air is drying to vocal tissues.
    • Inhaled smoke, exhaust, chemicals, fumes irritate vocal cords.
    • Pollens and other allergens cause vocal cord swelling in sensitive individuals.
    • Sensitive, irritated vocal cords are easily damaged.
    • Avoid these irritants; limit voice use while exposed to them.
  • Know the side effects of medications.
    • Antihistamines are drying to vocal tissues.
    • Anticoagulants increase possibility of vocal cord hemorrhage.
    • Ask your doctor about possible side effects of other medication.
  • Know how health factors affect voice.
    • Chronic conditions such as allergy, upper respiratory infection, emphysema, and poor dental health can all contribute to making the vocal cords swollen and sensitive, and the voice weak.
    • Under such conditions, normal talking may strain the voice.
  • Know the effects of posture and exercise.
    • Tension in the head, neck, throat, and upper torso can cause detrimental tension in the larynx.
    • Physical activity that jars the body also jars the larynx.
    • Avoid shouting, grunting or speaking during heavy physical exertion, such as while participating in sports.
  • Use your voice properly when singing.
    • Take lessons to learn proper pitch and techniques for your voice.
    • Always warm up, and always warm down.
    • Do not sing too loud, or with too much force.
    • Do not sing when hoarse, fatigued or with other vocal problems.
  • Limit your amount of talking.
    • Recognize these important signals that can occur while talking:
      • Muscles of the head or neck feel strained/fatigued.
      • Voice begins to fade or sound weak.
      • Throat feels dry, scratchy.
    • Then, do not strain harder or speak louder; give your voice a rest.
  • Breathe.
    • Running out of air but not finished talking yet?
    • Find yourself talking faster to get it all out in the same breath?
    • Pause and inhale
  • Avoid eating two to three hours before bedtime.
    • Digesting food while lying flat can cause gastric acid reflux.
  • Experiment.
    • Try these suggestions to see which help you.
    • Become aware of how foods, medications, environments, sleeping habits and other factors affect your voice.
    • Your developing awareness of your vocal habits will help you make the necessary changes.


If you have any questions or problems, please contact our office at (937) 325-8796 or toll-free at 1-800-325-8796