An ENT surgeon’s guide to looking after your voice

Written by: Mr Brian Fish
Edited by: Bronwen Griffiths

The voice box is what allows us to speak, and is absolutely essential. Therefore, in order to look after our voice, caring for our voice box is the main priority. This is particularly important if you rely on your voice for your career, for example, if you are a teacher, lawyer, singer, or sales representative. In such jobs, your voice is your tool, so caring for it is paramount. Mr Brian Fish, who is an ENT surgeon and expert in treating voice disorders, gives us advice on what we can do to look after our voice.

What can I do to look after my voice?

The voice box is the engine of voice production and produces the sound that we then go on to manipulate into comprehensible words. It is made up of two components:

  1. Muscles and cartilage
  2. The specialised lining that covers the muscles and cartilage

Therefore, to look after your voice, is to look after these two components.

Watch now: voice disorders

So, how can we care for our voice?

In order to look after the muscular element, there are a few easy things we can do, such as:

  • Keep ourselves well rested
  • We can also help ourselves by making sure we take a nice deep breath before using our voice. Otherwise, the temptation is to try and strain those muscles to get as much sound as we can out of the air that is coming through
  • Avoid overusing the voice
  • Avoid shouting
  • Avoid using the voice when it is tired or sore
  • Avoid using the voice abnormally, such as whispering or shouting

In order to look after the specialised lining, we need to:

  • Keep it well hydrated, meaning we should drink plenty of water during the day and avoid too many caffeinated drinks which have the effect of drying things out
  • Avoid smoking and smoky environments
  • Avoid dry and dusty environments
  • Avoid certain foods which may give people acid reflux or indigestion, and that acid can come up and affect the lining of the voice box
  • Avoid constant throat clearing

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By Mr Brian Fish
Otolaryngology / ENT

Mr Brian Fish is a top consultant ENT surgeon based in Cambridge. Specialising in thyroid, parathyroid and head and neck cancer surgery, he is also an expert in treating neck and salivary gland lumps, voice disorders, throat disorders and treats a wide range of ENT conditions. He established and runs a specialist voice clinic at Addenbrooke Hospital, Cambridge with a speech therapist and also runs a neck and thyroid lump clinic at Spire Cambridge Lea and Nuffield Hospitals.

Mr Fish qualified from the University of Birmingham and underwent extensive training at three major teaching hospitals in Liverpool, including Alder Hey Children's Hospital, where he gained the skills and experience to offer comprehensive paediatric ENT services. He then undertook a Fellowship in Head and Neck Surgery at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in Australia before taking up his consultant position in Cambridge. He now practises at several hospitals in Cambridge and serves as Associate Clinical Advisor for the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

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