Losing your voice, coughing, a sore throat or laryngitis are some of a singer’s worst nightmares and can cost them important milestones in their career. This is why taking care of vocal cords is essential and if you are asking, how do you take care of your singing voice, this article is for you.

Taking care of your voice as a singer is much like an athlete needs to take care of their body to perform at their best. This includes having physicians and physios at hand to help them avoid long-term injuries and perform at their best. In the same way, vocal cord care will require, damage preventive techniques, training, and sometimes medical care.

The performing arts is a competitive industry, where it is not necessarily easy to make a living. The added risk is that your musical instrument, which is your most important investment, is carried within your body and is subject to the physical constraints of simply being human!

This is why every singer should be asking, how do you take care of your singing voice? If this is you, taking care of your vocal cords can ensure your employment. This is where ENT and speech pathologists can help you to stay in the game. The question is, when and why should you visit them. In this article, we will help you to know what symptoms to look out for to help you to know how to look after your singing voice when it comes to seeking professional medical help.

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What is Speech Pathology?

A speech pathologist is someone who focuses on language, speech, and communication. They are trained to deal with speaking, voice, and language problems that also relate to hearing and swallowing. The speech pathologist is able to diagnose and treat any maladies to do with vocal health.

They have a thorough understanding of what it takes both physically and cognitively to produce sound with the voice. In some cases, they will suggest surgical interventions for acute conditions.

For the singer who asks, how do you take care of your singing voice, the speech pathologist is often the answer.

If you have any of these persistent symptoms, considering an appointment with a recommended speech pathologist could save you from long-term damage and help you with your vocal cord care.

  • Sore throat
  • Vocal cord changes
  • Chronic coughing or a broken voice
  • A broken voice
  • Vocal fatigue
  • Allergies
  • Dysphonia and aphonia
  • Hoarseness
  • Vocal sound issues
  • Voice loss

Depending on the severity of your complaint, the speech pathologist may advise a consultation with an ENT specialist if additional medical intervention is required.

They could suggest natural remedies for any milder conditions. Some of these include home remedies like honey and lemon, herbal teas, and eucalyptus pastels.

When to Visit a Speech Pathologist

man doing breath work
Breathing exercises are recommended to maintain the quality of your voice. - Source: Pexels

If you are a singer who is suffering regularly from any of the conditions listed above, taking care of your vocal cords means taking action.

One of the many reasons it is helpful to work with a singing tutor is that they will be able to quickly identify if you are struggling with vocal cord or timbre alterations. Vocal coaches and singing tutors are trained to look out for these issues because regular singing and voice work can lead to inflammation and other conditions that can put the singer at risk.

Several conditions are linked with speech; some are triggered by singing and others will encumber your singing. The thing that all of these have in common, is that without proper vocal cord care, they won’t go away on their own.

Who should consult with a speech pathologist?

Singers, teachers, actors, and anyone who regularly uses their voice as part of their job. In fact, those who strain their voice during work may find that they have vocal problems that they were unaware of. Some of the more severe symptoms to look out for include the following:

  • A swollen or scratchy throat
  • Vocal fatigue when singing
  • Difficulty elevating your voice
  • Difficulty attaining high notes
  • Laryngeal pain
  • Hoarseness
  • Other throat irritations
  • Vocal timbre alterations

If you have lost your voice for more than a week, taking care of your voice as a singer means that you should definitely seek medical advice.

Taking care of your vocal cords as a singer means that smoking should be avoided at all costs, which is the same advice that you could expect a speech pathologist or ENT specialist to dispense.

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Types of Speech Pathology Interventions

When it comes to difficulties with your larynx, throat, lungs, and airways that affect your vocal cords, seeing a pathologist is the first step to how to look after your singing voice.

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Some of the common interventions that medical professionals undertake by taking care of your vocal cords can include the following:

Laryngoscopy is the method that doctors use to examine vocal cords by wearing a light on the forehead and carefully placing a mirror at the back of your throat.

A procedure like this can be avoided by making lifestyle changes like regular rest that includes a break from singing at the first sign of vocal fatigue.

Other ways to avoid and fix a condition like dysphonia is to stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.

Here is other advice that is suggested by medical professionals:

  • Abdominal breathing exercises can help control your stress.
  • Humidifying the air with an air humidifier to ensure that your throat doesn’t dry out.
  • Avoid shouting.

This advice for taking care of your vocal cords is particularly helpful if you’re suffering from hoarseness. If your conditions are more severe, as in the case of polyps, nodules or granuloma, microsurgery could be necessary.

In the case of voice paralysis, speech therapy could help to increase the effectiveness of coughing which can help to protect your airways from irritants.

Tools Used by the Speech Pathologist or ENT  

To find the cause of a patient’s problems, a specialist needs certain tools for vocal cord care.

The following tools may be used by the Speech Pathologist or ENT:

  • Endoscope
  • Laryngoscope
  • Pharyngoscope
  • Flexible fibrescope
  • A computer

As mentioned, a laryngoscope is used to look into the back of the throat with a light and the naked eye.

An endoscope is a camera used for filming the inside of the human body, most particularly, the throat and larynx.

The flexible fibrescope is an instrument that is inserted into the nostril and drops down into the throat.

The pharyngoscope records movements of vocal cords from the mouth.

These may sound drastic, but if taking care of your voice is important, you will do just about anything!

Visiting a Specialist

doctor examining patient's back
Did you know that your posture impacts your voice? - Source: Pexels

As with other doctors and clinicians, an examination will precede diagnosis.

In most cases, one consultation is usually enough for a diagnosis. Of course, medical help can be expensive, but medical investments are unfortunately one of the methods for how to look after your singing voice.

Generally, one consultation will probably be enough for a diagnosis of most conditions.

Apart from seeking medical help if you are asking how do you take care of your singing voice, to maintain or fix your voice, make sure that you do regular breathing exercise, fix your posture for singing and seek the help of a singing tutor or voice coach who can help you with techniques that will contribute to taking care of your voice as a singer.

A good singing tutor will be familiar with a lot of voice issues and therefore be able to advise you on which medical intervention to start with if any. A professional voice coach will treat your body like the instrument that it is, making sure that you know how to look after your singing voice through abdominal and vocal cord exercises amongst other things. They also have an understanding of the role of speech pathology in taking care of your voice as a singer.

The Role of Tutors in Taking Care of Your Voice as a Singer  

Singing tutors and voice coaches are trained to help you get the most out of your voice. Not only that, their teaching is based on techniques that ultimately help you to protect it from damage. They are also a knowledgeable first port of call when a voice injury has occurred.

On Superprof, if you search by location, it is likely that you will find several singing tutors near to you who have verified credentials, reviews on their profile pages, and who could give you in-person or online singing training. Average prices for private singing tutors in South Africa, depending on the area are R320 per hour.

Alternatively, you could also join a singing class, which will be more affordable, but where the individual attention that most professional singers need is likely to be lacking. Whichever route you choose, remember that your voice is a precious instrument and should be taken care of accordingly.

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.