The importance of vocal hygiene when working, learning or participating in Telehealth sessions from home
Now more than ever, we are utilising technology to communicate. Thousands of Australian workers are working from home and communicating with their coworkers via video and voice calls. Children, too, are learning from home and connecting with their teachers via video calls.
Even our doctor and specialist appointments are over the phone.
With this in mind, it is not uncommon for you to experience discomfort in your voice.
This is where “vocal hygiene” comes into play. Just as you would have a shower to get clean, it is equally important to care for your voice. Vocal hygiene includes hydration, breathing, voice production and changing daily habits or behaviours.
In this article, we explore vocal hygiene strategies to help you care for your voice at home.
How can talking on the phone affect my voice?
Talking on the phone or via video is taxing on your voice. You may notice your voice is more tired than usual or your throat is tight, and your voice is hoarse or even starts to ache.
If you talk for long periods without drinking water, you might notice an increased sensation of dryness or irritation in your throat. This is why vocal hygiene is absolutely essential on a daily basis.
What vocal hygiene strategies can I use to help my voice?
- Drink plenty of water. If you absolutely hate water, then try adding some flavouring such as cordial or water infusers. Alternatively, you could add different fruit directly to your water (lemon, cucumber, and mint).
- Avoid smoking and dry, dusty environments.
- Ensure any reflux is managed effectively.
- If you use an inhaler, use a spacer and then rinse and gargle after using
- Avoid mouthwash, alcohol and lollies that contain menthol.
- Get enough rest.
- Use diaphragmatic breathing. See previous blog (What is diaphragmatic breathing?)
Strategies for good vocal hygiene
- Warm-up your vocal cords: produce an ‘mmm’ sound, and say ‘oo’ using a comfortable pitch, then glide up and down in pitch.
- Have a glass or bottle of water near you. Continue to sip water during the call can help to reduce dryness or mucus.
- Set up in a quiet space and ask your other telehealth participants to find a quiet space, with a good signal so they can hear. This can lower the risk of you straining your voice to be heard.
- Use headphones.
- Set your monitor at a comfortable height. This is to avoid twisting your neck or hunching over as this might affect your breathing and voice box function.
- Prepare images or videos to share to rest your voice.
What can I do after a phone or online meeting?
- Enable time for your voice to recover e.g. schedule time to complete admin between sessions.
- Drink plenty of water
Vocal hygiene is not always useful as a stand-alone treatment for voice disorders. If you or your child are having any voice difficulties, speech pathology assessment and intervention is recommended.
If you have any concerns regarding your vocal hygiene please do not hesitate to call Harrison Speech Pathology on (02) 4953 6128 regarding your concerns.
All our therapists are trained and experienced in implementing therapy targeting voice issues.