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Michele Dempsey, M.S. CCC-SLP Outpatient Speech-Language Pathologist
With the onset of fall approaching quickly, many of us may find ourselves spending more time outside enjoying our favorite pastimes in the cooler weather. Participating in these activities may actually increase the wear and tear on our voice which is meant to last a lifetime. The following tips are meant for you to consider the next time you go cheer on your favorite team or attend a tailgating party.

Control and limit your vocal loudness. Attending sporting events or crowded environments, we may find ourselves competing vocally with the surrounding noise. Try to avoid excessive and consistent yelling or loud cheering. Alternate your voice with other ways to cheer on your team such as hand clapping.

Rest your voice. Remember to always give your voice rest after you have used it. Try to listen more and talk less especially after using your voice for extended periods of time.

Don't smoke. Smoking can damage your mouth, throat, nose and airway. The heat and chemicals from smoking cause inflammation, swelling, irreversible damage and cancer. The best way to avoid this damage is to stop smoking.

Be careful with medications. Many of us may find ourselves taking decongestants and allergy medications this fall. These medications dry our body out, including the vocal cords. Alcohol and caffeine also dry out our bodies. It is important to drink more water to hydrate your body.
Humidify your environment. Make sure there is enough humidity in your house and work environment. Many of us are mouth breathers during sleep and wake up with a dry mouth or throat. Humidifiers and steam inhalers are good ways to balance the humidity.

Avoid frequent throat clearing. We all need to clear our throats. Clearing our throats causes our vocal cords to slam together. Frequent throat clearing would then cause damage to our voice. Try to recognize when you do this and why. Sometimes it may be due to increased postnasal drip. If so increase your water intake to thin the mucus.

Surrender to laryngitis. Laryngitis is caused by a respiratory infection resulting in a hoarse voice. The vocal cords are swollen. Use an easy, soft voice and decrease your talking. This will allow the vocal cords to get better and your voice will be restored.

As with anything, if you notice consistent problems with your voice please see your physician. He or she may suggest you participate in a voice therapy program to learn the best way to use your voice.