Sign In

​​​Your voice is part of your identity. Family, close friends and even electronic devices may recognize a person by his or her voice. Just as we care for our body, it is crucial to care for our vocal health which can be impacted by age, health and environmental changes. ​

What is a voice disorder?​
​​A voice disorder is present when the vocal quality, pitch or volume is abnormal or unacceptable to the speaker, impacting verbal communication.

Voice disorders may occur because of:

  • age-related changes​
  • hormonal changes
  • occupational voice demands
  • chronic cough
  • vocal misuse
  • vocal nodules, polyps or cysts
  • vocal cords paralysis or paresis
  • vocal cords dysfunction
  • laryngitis
  • impairments to the muscles of the voice box
  • reflux 

​Who are at risk of voice disorders?
People who speak loudly particularly in noisy environments for prolonged periods of time are at risk of voice disorders. This includes hawkers, teachers, salespersons​, singers, and emcees. People with medical conditions that impact the muscles, nerves and tissues of the voice box may also develop voice disorders.

Possible signs of a voice disorder

  • ​Rough, breathy and/or strained voice
  • Abnormal pitch and/or volume
  • Feeling tired after speaking for long periods
  • Feeling a lump in the throat when speaking
  • Having tension or pain in the throat when speaking
  • Having difficulties projecting voice
  • Having no voice

What can you do to care for your voice?

1) Stay sufficiently hydrated​

  • Drink at least 2 litres of water a day.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and products with menthol or eucalyptus as these have a dehydrating effect on the vocal cords.
  • Inhale warm steam when the throat feels dry.
  • Place a humidifier in your room.​

2) ​Use your voice appropriately

  • Avoid yelling - walk to the person you would like to speak to, use a microphone or reduce the background noise.
  • Avoid whispering - use a quiet or soft voice instead.
  • Avoid clearing your throat - if needed, do it gently or swallow your saliva. You could also take sips of water.
  • Do voice warm-ups before singing and know your vocal limits.
  • Stop singing or talking before you get overly tired.

​3) Develop good lifestyle habits.

  • Do not smoke.
  • Rest sufficiently, exercise and eat at regular timings.
  • Minimise the intake of chocolate, and fried and spicy food
  • ​Ensure good posture when speaking to a large audience or in a noisy environment.
  • Ladies should not overstrain their voice before and during their menstrual period as lowered estrogen levels can result in changes in the throat that may worsen voice quality.​

​What should I do if I get a voice problem despite following the above tips?
Consult a doctor. The doctor may refer you to a Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor and/ or a Speech Therapist (ST).

During the consult, the ST will ask questions to understand the voice problem, lifestyle habits as well as the nature and extent of your voice use. The ST will also assess and listen to your voice.

​You may be asked to attend a specialist voice clinic conducted by a voice-specialised ENT surgeon and ST. In this clinic, a scope which allows detailed examination of the voice box may be conducted to provide more advanced diagnosis of the voice problem. Thereafter, a plan involving exercises, medical and/or surgical interventions may be prescribed.

​- Article contributed by Speech Therapy, Rehabilitation, Allied Health Services -

Men Health; Women Health; Body Care

Similar Resources