Sneezing? Itchy eyes? Runny nose? Must be allergy season! With its unseasonable temperatures, this spring has been one of the worst seasons for allergy sufferers in years. If you happen to suffer from allergies, odds are you’re all too familiar with the most common symptoms: nasal blockage, postnasal drip, and red, itchy eyes. These symptoms can be so irritating, that another symptom often goes unnoticed: negative changes in the voice.
The hallmark postnasal drip that accompanies allergies can affect the vocal cords, causing irritation and subsequent throat clearing and coughing. This, together with the drying effects of many allergy medications can lead to a set of swollen, irritated vocal cords which may produce a hoarse voice and result in vocal fatigue and strain. For people who have significant vocal demands at work and at home, this can pose a serious problem. How can you lessen the effects of allergy season on your voice?
– Hydrate! Drinking enough water is always key in maintaining a healthy voice. This is even more crucial during allergy season, when vocal folds have a tendency to dry out. Sip water throughout the day, especially when you know you’ll be speaking for an extended period of time. If you need to make a presentation or speak in front of a group of people, make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all times to prevent vocal dehydration.
–Minimize Vocal Abuse: Coughing and clearing your throat cause the vocal folds to slam together, creating stress and tension. Although some coughing is inevitable with postnasal drip, it can often develop into a habit. Try taking a sip of water, and only cough or clear your throat when necessary.
–Professional Assistance: If your vocal problems become especially bothersome or extend beyond allergy season, you may want to utilize the services of a speech-language pathologist. Many speech therapists specialize in voice difficulties, and can provide training in proper use of the voice and good vocal hygiene. During therapy, the speech-language pathologist will provide an assessment of your vocal functioning as well as any vocal behaviors or habits that may be contributing to the issue. Then, a course of therapy will be designed to help improve vocal use.
Don’t let allergy season ruin your voice! Contact Speech Associates of New York and allow our professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists to help you use your voice in the healthiest way possible. Our team provides in-home evaluations and therapy, and is trained in the assessment and treatment of a range of pediatric and adult speech, language and communication disorders. Call us today at (917) 841-2965 and find out how we can help you communicate your best!