Everyone catches the occasional cold that makes you voice sound scratchy and wrong. If your job requires you to speak a lot, however, like teaching, customer service, or performing, there are ways you can take care of your voice to help make sure you can bring your A game when its really important.

  1. Use a microphone instead of yelling: if you can help it, a microphone will allow everyone to hear you clearly without you having to strain your voice day in and day out. Hearing your own voice amplified can be a bit disconcerting at first, but it will save you in the future from having to take time off for a “lost” voice.
  2. Don’t smoke: a smoker’s cough isn’t attractive to anyone. In addition to putting you at risk for laryngeal (voice box) cancer, smoking cigarettes can cause inflammation and polyps on the vocal cords, causing the voice to become thick and husky.
  3. Drink lots of water: drinking around eight 8-oz glasses of water per day will help to keep your vocal cords hydrated.
  4. Warm up: performers do it, but you may be performing at your job every day and not even realize it. Before you give a speech or lecture, try doing some warm-up exercises like going through the chromatic scale and rolling your tongue.
  5. Use your breath: breathe in using your diaphragm before speaking and try to keep your breath even while you talk. That is, don’t let your breath run all the way out before you take another breath, this puts strain on the vocal cords.

If your vocal cords are feeling strained, it’s best to take a rest. Pushing your vocal cords to the limit every day can lead to long term damage. If your voice is often hoarse or sore or if the hoarseness doesn’t go away after you’ve had a cold, it’s best to see your ENT specialist for an evaluation.

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