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Train Your Voice

Vocal Cords

Singing for a living is not easy specifically for your vocal folds. Many singers, like Sam Smith, Adele, and Meghan Trainor have had to take time off and delay their tours because of strain and overuse of their vocal folds, which some call the "vocal-cord crisis."

"The typical issues faced by our vocal athletes who over-train, are that they perform intensely without much rest, and end up having voice over-use injuries," said Julie Barkmeier-Kraemer, MD, Voice Disorder Center clinic director at University of Utah Health. "Even high performing athletes interval train and space out their competitions so that they don't get injured. This is not the case for performers - they often have several performances within the same week, sometimes within the same day, and perform when exhausted and ill."

You may not be a singer, but you could have a voice disorder that is caused when the voice has a problem with pitch, loudness and quality. These problems can occur when the vocal folds don't vibrate normally. Some voice disorder symptoms include: hoarseness, vocal fatigue, pain, or soreness associated with voice use, and fluctuating voice quality. However, many voice disorders can be cured with treatment when diagnosed early.

Keep Your Vocal Folds Happy

1) Do not over-use your voice by talking too long or too loudly.

2) Drink water and other hydrating fluids, but avoid consuming too much caffeine and alcohol as these promote dehydration.

3) Rest your voice if it starts to get scratchy or hoarse and see your doctor if this continues for three weeks or longer.

4) Avoid smoking or secondhand smoke.

For more information, contact the Voice Disorders Center at University of Utah Health or call 801-587-8368. You can also find information about the voice at the University of Utah's National Voice and Speech Center website.