Having Voice Issues? The Reason May Surprise You!

Change your voice, change your career!Vocal quality is a significant part of strong communication. Last week, we talked about how a speech-language pathologist can help you develop and maintain your best voice. Today, we’ll discuss some common issues that are often at the root of vocal problems:

Allergies: 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. If you’re experiencing allergies, make sure you hydrate more than usual, avoid excessive throat clearing, and seek the assistance of a speech-language pathologist if the issue is on-going.

Acid Reflux: Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid escapes the stomach and flows up into the esophagus. When the acid goes even further up and flows all the way up into the throat, it can affect the vocal chords and subsequently, vocal quality. Frequent exposure to stomach acid may cause irritation or small growths on the vocal cords which can result in a weak or breathy voice. A speech-language pathologist can help by assisting the patient in exercises to improve vocal function and strengthen the overall quality of the voice. In addition to the provided speech-language therapy, the patient can also decrease their symptoms by avoiding certain foods which exacerbate the condition, such as caffeine and peppermint.

Harmful Habits: Many people clear their throat repeatedly throughout the day, as a nervous habit. Each time you clear your throat, your vocal cords slam forcefully into one another, which can cause inflammation and injury over time. Only clear your throat when you genuinely feel as though you have something blocking or coating your airway. If you clear your throat out of habit, work on taking a sip of water or a deep breath instead.

Want to learn more? If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to jayne@speechassociatesofny.com. I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2015, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

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