Whisper, talk, sing and shout with advice from CQUni's Voice Care Clinic

24 March 2021

Most people rely on their voice to communicate' and with the average person speaking more than 16'000 words a day' a CQUniversity speech pathology expert is urging people to look after one of their most valuable assets.

Speech Pathology Lecturer Clancy Conlon said it is incredibly important that people recognise the symptoms of voice problems and strategies to maintain the health of their voice.

"A voice disorder occurs when a person has problems with the pitch' volume' tone or quality of their voice. This typically happens when a person's vocal folds are not vibrating properly'" Ms Conlon said.

"It is important to look out for symptoms of voice problems so that a person can implement strategies to prevent long term vocal damage.

"Everyone will experience some voice problems for a small period. A person should be concerned if their symptoms occur daily with no known cause e.g.' a viral infection."

These can include:

  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Soreness' dryness or fatigue in the throat
  • Running out of breath
  • Pitch is too high or too low
  • Voice is too loud' soft or unvaried
  • Strained' rough or breathy voice quality
  • Glottal fry
  • Falsetto
  • Voice and/or pitch breaks

Voice problems can be caused by a range of factors including:

  • Excessive vocal use
  • Muscle tension' particularly in the head and neck
  • Stress/emotion
  • Yelling
  • Upper chest breathing
  • Physical environment
  • Poor health
  • Reflux
  • Excessive caffeine consumption
  • Some medications
  • Harmful voice production techniques

"Poor vocal habits can result in long-term voice problems.

"Everybody should implement voice care strategies to look after their voice on a day-to-day basis' particularly if they have a job with high vocal usage such as teachers'" she said.

"Reducing background noise while talking and avoiding raising your voice and/or yelling can help. I would also suggest using a voice amplifier if you require high voice usage throughout your day.

"Appropriate posture and breathing should also be a priority. Keeping your back straight and head up during long periods of vocal usage."

She also suggested planning your day with your voice in mind.

"Plan your day so that you have periods of 'voice rest' and ensure there is enough water to drink water frequently throughout the day'" Ms Conlon said.

"Try to avoid or exposure to irritants such as smoke' caffeine and alcohol."

Ms Conlon encouraged anyone with voice concerns to attend an upcoming Voice Care Clinic with 4th Year Speech Pathology students.

"If you are concerned about your voice or would like to learn more about how to care for your voice' please see a speech-language pathologist.

"The CQUniversity clinic will be running a Voice Care Clinic on Tuesdays from the 27th of April until the 2nd of June. Participants can attend face to face at the Rockhampton North Campus or remotely through telehealth."

If you are interested in attending the Voice Care Clinic' please contact Clinical Educator Jane Walsh: j.m.walsh@cqu.edu.au