It’s that time of year: the snow has finally melted, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming…and you are a red-eyed, stuffy, sneezing, Kleenex-toting mess. Welcome to allergy season! Each year millions of people are affected by seasonal allergies. How many of you have experienced a change in your voice? You may be happy to know, you are not alone, and there are actions you can take!
In addition to the congestion, red and itchy eyes, and sneezing, allergies can also wreak havoc on your voice. While this may seem insignificant in comparison to the misery of your other allergy symptoms, maintaining a strong, dynamic speaking voice is crucial to effective professional communication. Why do seasonal allergies affect your voice? And how can you minimize the impact?
One of the classic symptoms of seasonal allergies is post-nasal drip. Coughing and throat clearing make the situation worse, as your vocal folds become tender and swollen. What to do?
Water is your friend: Seasonal allergies can be very dehydrating. Dehydrated vocal folds don’t vibrate effectively, producing a hoarse, strained voice. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you know you’ll be speaking for an extended period of time or need to project your voice to speak in public, make sure you have a bottle of water with you at all times to prevent vocal dehydration. And remember, drinking coffee will dehydrate your vocal folds! For each cup of coffee that you drink, you need two glasses of water!
Watch your medications: Antihistamines are one of the most common types of drugs used to battle allergies. Antihistamines minimize mucus in the body. However, not all mucus is bad. Some parts of your body, like your vocal folds, produce mucus regularly as a protective coating. Continued use of antihistamines can diminish this protective layer, and create dry, irritated vocal folds. If you feel that your allergy medication may be affecting your voice, try taking a break from your antihistamines and using an alternate solution, such as a nasal spray.
Watch out for Vocal Abuse: Coughing and clearing your throat cause the vocal folds to slam together, creating stress and tension. Although some coughing is inevitable with postnasal drip, it can often develop into a habit. Try taking a sip of water, and only cough or clear your throat when necessary.
If you feel that your voice is affecting your professional performance, consider seeing a speech-language pathologist. Speech therapists specialize in vocal function, and can provide strategies to improve your vocal quality. Ready to get started on your speaking goals? For information on the New York Based Speech and Accent Reduction services offered by Corporate Speech Solutions, give us a call at 212-308-7725 or visit us on the web at www.corporatespeechsolutions.com.
Do you have a seasonal allergies horror story? Share it in our comments section below!
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