Learn better care for your voice, and how to prevent losing it

BySarah Bloomquist and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Monday, July 11, 2022
Learn better care for your voice, and how to prevent losing it
Our voice is so vital for communication. But we take it for granted until it's not working well. Experts offer advice on how to better care for it.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Our voice is so important for communication.

But we often take it for granted until it's not working well. In this week's Moves in Medicine, we learn how to better care for this important asset.

"My voice is, that's my bread and butter," said Amii Richardson of Germantown.

Richardson talks all day, in customer service for an energy efficiency program.

"I also work with landlords throughout the city, and property managers," she says.

In recent years, Richardson periodically lost her voice.

"I was almost whispering at certain times, because I could barely talk," she says.

It altered how she did business, making her self-conscious.

"I tried tea, I tried honey and lemon, anything and everything," she said.

Richardson's doctor referred her to Otolaryngologist Dr. Ahmed Soliman of Temple Health, who sees similar problems in many professions.

"Probably one of the biggest groups is teachers. They are constantly using their voice," he said.

And they're often talking over students. But many people are guilty of other bad vocal habits like frequent throat-clearing, doing character voices, or having uncontrolled acid reflux or allergies.

Dr. Soliman's team uses special imaging techniques to spot subtle abnormalities in the vocal cords.

"Depending on what we find, sometimes surgery is required, sometimes it's voice therapy," he said.

Tests showed Richardson had nodules.

"It's like a thickening on the vocal folds," said speech pathologist Liane McCarroll, CCC-SLP

"The vocal cords weren't quite closing together the way they should," said Richardson.

Fortunately, vocal therapy with McCarroll is helping Richardson. McCarroll teaches patients to use their voices smarter.

"Some people strain and push from here instead of using the breath support," said McCarroll.

Also drink plenty of water, limit caffeine and alcohol, and don't smoke or vape, if you want to avoid re-injury.

"If you don't change those habits that caused it, it can come back," said McCarroll.

"We always say our patients are vocal athletes," said Dr. Soliman.

The Temple team has another favorite saying, treat your voice like money only give it to those who deserve it.