Are you straining to keep your voice normal and healthy? If you want to keep your voice healthy, there are a few tips you should follow to make sure your voice is ready when you need it.

We’ve compiled a brief list of what you can do below with help from Bari Hoffman Ruddy, Ph.D., director of The Voice Care Center at The Ear, Nose, Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates and Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida.

  1. Drink Water: Staying well hydrated is essential to maintaining your voice, says Dr. Ruddy. You should consume between 6-8 glasses of water a day. Remaining hydrated optimizes the throat’s mucous production, which helps the vocal cords maintain lubrication.
  2. Don’t Smoke: In addition to all of the negative side effects that come with smoking, breathing firsthand or secondhand fumes can cause irritation and swelling of the vocal cords.
  3. Give Your Voice a Rest: You should rest your voice periodically throughout the day, no matter your profession. Avoiding constant cheering or yelling over loud backgrounds can also help you maintain your voice.
  4. Avoid Dry Environments: “Excessively dry environments for long periods of time may affect the voice by drying the outer vocal fold layers,” says Dr. Ruddy. “This results in making the folds less pliable, which means more effort must be exerted to sustain vibration.”
  5. Minimize Throat Clearing: Dr. Ruddy says that clearing your throat is essentially like slapping your vocal cords together, which may cause irritation. Consider taking a small sip of water instead of clearing your throat when the urge arises.

Although voice problems can arise from a variety of sources –including voice overuse or misuse, cancer, infection or injury – the tips for home/preventative treatment remain largely the same for occupational voice users. As always, if the vocal issues persist, consider contacting a local voice care specialist.