Avoiding vocal cord strain

By • Published: June 29th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you’re like most sports fans, shouting at the umpire when he misses a call or screaming “We’re number one!” when your team takes the title is just part of the game.

But even if your team is winning, you could be losing… your voice.

It might seem harmless, but shouting at games, speaking too loudly or even talking too much on the phone can actually damage your vocal cords. Doctors say placing too much strain on your vocal cords not only causes temporary hoarseness but also could lead to bigger, more permanent problems down the road.

Experts from the John Hopkins Voice Center say if you feel hoarse or if you have to strain to talk, you might be misusing your voice. Listen to your body’s signals and consider giving your voice a rest. Watch out for signs of a bigger problem, too, including hoarseness that lasts for two weeks and other symptoms such as ear pain or trouble swallowing. If you experience any of these problems, you should see your doctor.

People who use their voice as part of their job, like teachers, lawyers and clergy members, should take extra care not to overdo it.

So what can you do to keep from straining your voice? Use a microphone when you have to speak to crowds, put your cell phone down once in a while, ditch the cigarettes if you smoke and drink plenty of fluids to keep your vocal cords in good working order.

Oh, and quit yelling at the umpire. It’s not his fault your team isn’t any good this year.