Singing Health Issues & How To Resolve Them
Speaking and singing with dry vocal folds often results in vocal problems such as voice breaks, excessive throat clearing (which further irritates your vocal folds), loss of volume control or range, vocal fatigue, and voice loss. A person who doesn’t make a lot of demands on his or her voice might not notice the symptoms of dry vocal folds. Most professional voice users, including doctors, ministers, lawyers, and teachers, know how a dry, tired voice can impact daily work.
Your vocal folds require a thin layer of mucous to keep them vibrating properly. If your vocal folds are not well lubricated, then voice use generates a lot of friction, which can tire out your voice. Just as a car engine needs oil to keep it running smoothly, your vocal folds need to be lubricated to function smoothly. Your vocal folds become lubricated when your entire body is well hydrated.
The best lubrication can be achieved by drinking plenty of water well in advance of heavy voice use. This gives your body time to absorb the water and distribute the fluids to all the tissues of your body, including your larynx. A good rule of thumb (if you have normal kidneys and heart function) is to drink at least two glasses of water daily.
Some singers follow this rule: “Pee pale, sing clear.” This means that if your urine is light colored or almost clear, it can indicate that your body is well hydrated. Certain medications and vitamin supplements can affect the color of urine, so speak to your doctor if you have questions about this.
You can hydrate your vocal folds systemically (internally) by drinking water, as mentioned above, and topically (on the surface) by inhaling steam.
There are gadgets made to sit on a tabletop that create a controlled amount of steam that you can inhale through your nose and mouth via a plastic mask, or you can stand over a pot of simmering water.
These tools are useful if you have a cold and want to clear some of the thick mucus secretions from your nasal passages and throat. For most people, they are not necessary to use daily, unless you live in a particularly dry environment.
Even if you drink enough water each day, there are several other causes of a dry voice.