“The greatest musical instrument given to a human being is the voice.”
Established in 2002, World Voice Day supports men and women of all ages to evaluate their vocal health and to take action to maintain or develop good voice habits. The media campaign for 2015 focuses on the idea that the voice was “the original social media.” Advocates of World Voice Day come together in countries all around the globe for several events to celebrate the remarkable ability of the voice. For information about events in your area, click here.
The voice is the main tool for both semantic and emotional communication. Humans communicate and express thoughts and ideas orally through a complex series of movements. These movements modify and mold the basic tone created by the voice into precise sounds. Voice production involves the lungs and the vocal folds in the larynx, known as the voice box, that work together to produce sounds and speech. Yet, the voice does not only generate speech. Humans have the ability to laugh, cry, and sing without producing speech. With such intricate features and nuanced outputs, there is no doubt that the voice can suffer from damage and conditions that impair these sounds.
Voice troubles are often associated with hoarseness, which can be defined as a disorder depicted by altered pitch, loudness, quality, or effort of the voice that worsens communication or lessens voice-related well-being. They can be a result of overuse or misuse, infection, cancer, or injury. The pitch of the voice is defined as the highness or lowness of a sound due to the frequency of the sound waves, whereas amplitude is the loudness of the voice and refers to the apparent volume of the sound.
Laryngitis is a common vocal condition associated with hoarseness and voice loss. It is defined as the inflammation of the larynx, also known as the voice box, and is often the result of irritation, infection, or overuse of the vocal cords. Learn more about laryngitis here.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD):
- Approximately 7.5 million individuals in the United States experience difficulty using their voices.
- The predominance of speech sound disorders in young children ranges from 8 to 9 percent.
- An estimated 3 million Americans and about 15 million people around the world stutter in their speech
- By the first grade, about 5 percent of children have obvious speech disorders, with the majority attributed to no known cause.
In light of World Voice Day, it is essential to assess the vocal health of you and your loved ones and remember to take proper care of your voice. Here are a few tips to maintain proper vocal health:
- Drink water: Water will enhance the throat’s mucous production and lubricate vocal folds.
- Warm up your voice before heavy use: Warming up your voice before a speech or an activity that requires heavy use of your voice will help reduce strain to the vocal cords. These exercises can be as simple as gliding on different vowel sounds from high to low tones.
- Use a microphone: If in a loud environment, make sure to use a vocal amplification system to avoid damage to your vocal cords.
- Use good breathing technique: Take enough breath in to talk and don’t wait to breathe until you are almost out of air. The lungs give your voice the power it needs.
- Pay attention to your voice: If you hear that your voice is becoming hoarse, give it the proper recovery that it needs. If hoarseness is becoming a chronic problem for you, talk to your doctor, as this could be a sign of a more significant condition.
- Avoid clearing your throat: Attention throat clearers, this action is equivalent to slapping your vocal cords together. Too much throat clearing can wreak havoc and cause injury to the vocal cords. Instead, try swallowing or drinking water to clear the throat.
- Avoid smoking: Irritation and swelling of the vocal cords can result from tobacco or marijuana smoking and even second hand smoke. This could potentially change the quality of your voice.
- Avoid yelling and screaming: Habitual yelling and talking loud can injure your vocal cords.
A voice is a human gift;
it should be cherished and used,
to utter fully human speech as possible.
Powerlessness and silence go together.”
Hu, A.C. (2015 Mar). The do’s and don’ts to a healthy voice. Retrieved from http://www.entnet.org/sites/default/files/uploads/AboutUs/_files/wvd2015_marchbulletindosdonts.pdf
World Voice Day. Retrieved from http://www.entnet.org/WorldVoiceDay
(2015). The Voice Production. Retrieved from http://world-voice-day.org/the-voice-production/
Statistics on Voice, Speech, and Language. Retrieved from http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/pages/vsl.aspx
Gupta, R. Marijuana and Voice Injury. Retrieved from http://www.ohniww.org/marijuana-voice-injury/
(2015 Mar 6). Laryngitis. Retrieved from http://www.dovemed.com/laryngitis/