Caring for your voice and throat - Vocal Hygiene

Caring for your voice and throat

Information about Vocal Hygiene

Good vocal hygiene is vital for the smooth functioning of your voice box and throat. It prevents a number of throat symptoms such as irritation, sore throats, dryness, food sticking in the throat, tightening of the throat, chronic cough and catarrh. Good vocal hygiene helps improve lifestyle and reduces the risk of damage to your voice.

Principles of good vocal hygiene include:

Good Hydration

  • It is recommended that we drink 2 litres of water a day which is the equivalent of 4 pints or 8 glasses. This does not include coffee, alcohol, fizzy or sugary drinks
  • On hot days or if you undertake exercise or manual work, you may need to drink more than 2 litres
  • For the elderly, tea is accepted, however excessive tea drinking will still be detrimental to vocal health
  • To increase water intake, consider carrying a bottle of water with you or keeping a water flask on your desk or nearby during the day
  • Dryness leads to thicker and sticky secretions which you may find you need to clear constantly

Avoid shouting and straining or excessive use of your voice

  • Reduce background noise where possible so you do not have to shout or strain your voice
  • Find the person you are speaking to and avoid shouting through walls or doorways or over background noise

Avoid smoking

  • Stop smoking. This damages the lining of the throat and vocal cords
  • If you require help to stop smoking, speak to your GP who will be able to help

Voice Rest

  • When your voice feels tired or strained, try to avoid using it. It is good to try to rest your voice at some point over the day, regardless of how it feels
Steam inhalations help to lubricate the throat and vocal cords


  • Steaming helps to lubricate the throat and vocal cords
  • Steam inhalation: use recently boiled water in a bowl and cover your head and shoulders. Take deep breaths for a few minutes until the water stops steaming. This can be done twice a day
  • Try adding chamomile oil or chamomile flowers to the water as these are a naturally anti-inflammatory


  • Make sure you sleep enough and that it is good quality sleep. Fatigue can lead to a weak voice


  • Deep breaths and regular breathing during sentences reduces straining your voice whilst talking. Try not to force words out on one little breath

Caffeine, alcohol, and fizzy drinks

  • These lead to dehydration and dryness of the vocal cords and throat
  • Try to follow an alcoholic beverage with a soft drink or glass of water
  • Fruit juices contain large amounts of sugar and are also acidic and should not be consumed in large quantities – a maximum of one a day is recommended
  • Diluted sugar free squash is best if you would like to flavour your water
Remember to drink at least 2 litres of water a day

Reflux and indigestion

  • This can lead to inflammation of the voice box as well as sore throats, throat discomfort or the feeling of a lump in your throat
  • Spicy and acidic foods increase the chance of reflux and irritation
  • Avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime
  • Consider a trial of Gaviscon Advance anti-reflux treatment for four to six weeks to see if this helps your symptoms

Throat clearing and habitual coughing

  • Unnecessary throat clearing puts strain on the throat and traumatises the vocal cords which can affect the voice.
  • If you think there is an element of habitual coughing and throat clearing, try distraction techniques such as sipping water, whistling, puffing out your cheeks, occasionally sucking a sugar-free sweet or sticking out your tongue when you feel the urge to cough or clear your throat


  • Avoid smoke, dry and dusty environments, excessively air-conditioned environments or chemical irritants as these can dry out and irritate the throat
  • Follow ventilation guidelines on any products classed as irritants


  • The numbing effect of lozenges can do more damage to your throat and should be avoided
  • Menthol lozenges cause additional dryness which exacerbates symptoms
  • Sugar-free sweets and chewing gum help to alleviate dryness and stimulate saliva. Fruit such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit, apples, pears or cucumber may also have a similar effect

If you would like to book an appointment to see Robert Hone or Ali Al-lami to discuss your symptoms, please get in touch with our Practice Team via phone 07450 852096, the website, by email