Protect your vocal health every day, U-M expert urges

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Every year on April 16, otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons and other voice health professionals worldwide join together to recognize World Voice Day.

World Voice Day encourages men and women, young and old, to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain good voice habits. The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) has sponsored the U.S. observance of World Voice Day since its inception in 2002.

The theme for World Voice Day 2009, "Invest in Your Voice," reminds people of the value and significance of vocal health in everyday life.
"A healthy voice is not only vital to effective verbal communication, but is also our natural instrument for artistic expression. This year on World Voice Day, America's otolaryngologists encourage people to ‘invest in your voice' by taking simple steps to increase your vocal capital and avoiding habits that can be harmful," says Norman D. Hogikyan, M.D., AAO-HNS member and professor and chief of the Division of Laryngology, Rhinology and General Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan Medical School.
As AAO-HNS celebrates the seventh year of World Voice Day observance, ear, throat and nose doctors offer some tips to keep in tip-top vocal shape:
  • Drink plenty of water. Moisture is good for your voice. Hydration helps to keep thin secretions flowing to lubricate your vocal cords.
  • Try not to scream or yell. These are abusive practices for your voice, and put great strain on the lining of the vocal cords.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Warm up your voice before heavy use. Warm-ups can be simple, such as gently gliding from low to high tones on different vowel sounds, doing lip trills (like the motorboat sound that kids make), or tongue trills.
  • Use good breath support. Breath flow is the power for voice. Take time to fill your lungs before starting to talk, and don't wait until you are almost out of air before taking another breath to power your voice.
  • Use a microphone. When giving a speech or presentation, consider using a microphone to lessen the strain on your voice.
  • Listen to your voice when it is complaining to you. Know that you need to modify and decrease your voice use if you become hoarse to allow your vocal cords to recover. Pushing your voice when it's already gruff can lead to significant problems. If your voice is hoarse frequently, or for an extended period of time, you should be evaluated.
To learn more about World Voice Day, vocal health, and other ear, nose and throat related topics, visit
University of Michigan Vocal Health Center

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