Anyone can have a voice problem.
This issue we look at some common causes of voice disorders and what you can do to help protect your voice.
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Anyone can have a voice problem.

Around 7-9% of children and 5-6% of adults have a voice problem, with more women than men experiencing difficulties.
Occupations with high vocal use (think entertainers, teachers, call centre operators, lawyers, etc) are at higher risk for voice disorders - with 18% having a voice problem at any one time, and up to 60% experiencing a voice problem at least once during their career. (Reference: Speech Pathology Australia [online])

What Causes Voice Problems?

Most voice problems are preventable! Voice problems are usually caused by a number of factors. The most common cause is 'vocal load'.
This could be due to:
- talking or singing for long periods of time without giving your voice a rest
- talking or singing over noise or without proper amplification
- talking or singing when you have a throat infection
- talking or singing in a way that harms your voice
Other factors include:
- emotional factors, like stress and anxiety
- health and lifestyle factors, e.g. acid reflux, viral infections, and smoking
- medical conditions such as stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, thyroid  problems and autoimmune conditions.
- normal ageing

(Reference: Speech Pathology Australia [online])

Features of a Voice Problem

- A hoarse, husky, croaky, strained, strangled or shaky voice
- A voice that is too soft to be heard easily
- A voice that doesn’t carry well over background noise or across large distances
- A voice that sounds higher or lower in pitch than the voices of other people of the same age and gender
- A voice that doesn’t have its usual variation and flexibility in pitch and loudness
- The voice feels tired after talking
- It feels like an effort to speak
- A tight, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable or sore throat during and/or after talking
- A need to cough or clear the throat during and/or after talking

(Reference: Speech Pathology Australia [online])

Protecting Your Voice

- Keep your body well-hydrated and avoid dehydrating drinks (alcohol, caffeine), drugs ( tobacco, marijuana) and medications ( antihistamines). Aim for 6-8 glasses of water a day and more if you exercise or use your voice often for work.
- Get the right breath support - avoid speaking to the end of your breath, maintain good posture and try to avoid breathing through your mouth - use your nose!
- Avoid menthol-based throat lozenges or inhalations, as they dry the mucous lining of the throat and voice box
- Take regular voice rest breaks, especially when your voice is tired, overused, or when your throat feels uncomfortable
- Warm-up your voice before using it for long periods and cool it down afterwards
- Avoid trying to compete with background noise when you talk or sing. Turn down noise, move away
from it, use a voice amplifier and attract listeners’ attention by clapping or signalling
- Avoid yelling, habitual throat clearing. and singing outside of your comfortable range
- Learn to project your voice from the front of your face rather than the throat
- Avoid whispering or using an unnaturally soft and breathy voice
- Get your beauty sleep - our natural voice is lower in intensity and sometimes in pitch and tone when tired. This can lead to speaking louder and 'forcing your voice' to be heard. Take a moment or two during the day to stop and relax.

(Reference: Speech Pathology Australia [online])
If you experience any of the above symptoms for more than 7 days, ask your GP for a referral to an ENT and Speech Pathologist for further review and support.
Mobile: 0408 620 826 | Clinic: (02) 9771 9061
Webpage: | Facebook: /NotAllTalkSpeechPathology
Twitter: @NotAllTalk_SP | Instagram: @notalltalksp

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Not All Talk Speech Pathology · 6 Nambucca Place · Padstow Heights, Nsw 2211 · Australia

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