Most people who have a problem with their voice and are unable to speak clearly, usually rush to a general physician for diagnosis and treatment. While sometimes your general physician may be able to provide a suitable remedy, in most cases, they may suggest a consultation with a specialist ENT doctor. An ENT doctor is a medical professional who has received specialised training in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose and throat problems, and may be able to provide a suitable remedy to treat the underlying cause of your voice disorder.
As a voice problem can have severe psychological and physical ramifications, it is important to take preventive measures, and reduce your chances of developing them.
Below are some tips to lower the occurrence of voice disorders:
- Limit alcohol or caffeine intake: These substances act as diuretics, which cause the body to lose water. According to leading ENT doctors, this loss of fluids can dry out the throat, and result in problems such as hoarseness, laryngitis and paralysis of the vocal cord.
- Drink plenty of fluids: It is recommended to drink six to eight glasses of water per day, to prevent dehydration. One should also drink other healthy liquids such as fruit juices, milk shakes and soups. In many cases, dehydration has proved to be the main cause of a voice problem.
- Avoid smoking: This includes inhaling second-hand smoke as well. Cancer of the vocal folds is a severe throat problem that manifests, most often, in individuals who smoke.
- Avoid using mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or other harsh chemicals, as these chemicals may irritate the throat.
- Follow good breathing techniques: When you are speaking or singing, it is important to support your voice with deep breaths from the diaphragm. This form of breath control helps lessens the strain on one’s voice, and reduces voice problems.
- Avoid consuming spicy foods: Foods with too much spice may cause stomach acid to travel into the throat or oesophagus (reflux), resulting in a variety of symptoms. This may include hoarseness, throat pain, a lump in the throat sensation or swallowing problems.
- Use a humidifier: It is advised to have at least thirty percent humidity in homes or offices. This is particularly important in winter or in areas with a dry climate. If your surroundings are not humid enough, you should consider purchasing a humidifier to increase the humidity level.
- Avoid cradling the telephone: Holding the telephone receiver between the head and shoulder, while speaking for extended periods of time, can result in muscle tension in the neck area. This may in turn lead to severe voice problems.
- Avoid noisy places: Talking above the din in noisy places can strain your voice. If you really need to speak in front of a noisy crowd, consider using a microphone to amplify your voice, and get yourself heard.
Most good ENT clinics have teams of experienced ENT doctors, as well as ENT surgeons, who specialise in treating different types of ear, nose and throat problems, including voice disorders. In their free time, such ENT specialists usually write high quality medical articles for medical blogs, newsletters or websites, to provide patients with general information about different ENT disorders.