Cold and Flu Ways to Keep Your Voice Healthy and Strong By Ear Nose and Throat, March 1, 2017 Your voice is your way of communicating with the world — so it’s important to take care of it. Your vocal cords are twin folds of a mucus membrane, stretched sideways across your larynx. They vibrate and modulate the flow of air from your lungs to make a sound. Above all, the vocal cords are made of delicate tissue that needs special care to keep your voice healthy, strong, and clear. Giving Your Voice a Chance to Rest If your job involves a lot of speaking, take a break each day to give your voice a rest. The same goes for when you have a cold and have “lost” your voice. Try not to speak through the hoarseness or you may delay your recovery. Vocal Volume Matters It’s the day after you’ve attended a concert or sporting event, and you find you can barely speak. Prolonged yelling can cause needless stress on your vocal cords and over time may cause serious damage. Even speaking in loud environments — on a factory floor with clattering machinery, for example — can lead to unneeded strain and damage. Your Lifestyle and Your Vocal Health Smoking can significantly affect your vocal health, so it’s a good idea to quit as soon as possible. Also, staying hydrated is essential for voice health. Drinking plenty of water keeps the vocal cords moist, supple, and able to do their job. If you speak a lot at work, keep a bottle of water on hand. Using a humidifier at your home or office can be supportive to the voice as well. RELATED: Why Is My Voice Hoarse? Treating Voice Disorders If you often have a hoarse voice, or you find yourself always coughing or clearing your throat, you should seek medical care. Symptoms of vocal disorders include: Trouble swallowing. A low, raspy speaking voice. Feeling as though you have a lump in your throat. You may have one of the more common vocal problems and may need further assessment and treatment. The UPMC Voice Center uses state-of-the-art technology and conducts cutting-edge research to treat a wide range of voice issues. To learn more: Visit the UPMC Voice Center website. Or, contact the UPMC Voice Center at 412-232-SING (7464).