DON’T TRY TO GO ALL KAMAHL
Men drop their voices to sound authoritative, says speech pathologist Linda Shields. But that can damage your pipes. Determine your natural pitch by saying “mmm-hmm”. The top of that hum is your optimum pitch.
CLEAR PHLEGM THE RIGHT WAY
Noisy throat-clearing bangs your vocal folds together, which can hurt them, warns otolaryngologist Dr Richard Stasney. Instead, take a deep breath and exhale through your mouth quickly and forcefully, without making any more than a breathy, Darth Vader-like sound. This will dislodge mucus from your throat so you can spit it out or swallow it, he says.
Think of your stomach as an acid volcano threatening the tender citizens clustered in your throat. Frequent heartburn (more than two bouts a week) could be a sign of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), says Dr Gary Falk, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. GORD sufferers are more likely to develop ulcers and even cancer of the oesophagus. Consult your GP about taking medication and go easy on the caffeine and tomato-based dishes.
SPEAK CLEARLY - TO A THROAT DOCTOR
If vocal changes or pain last for two or three weeks, ask to be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist. “Talking should be effortless, like a golf swing,” says Dr Mark Courey, director of the Voice and Swallowing Centre at the University of California.
“When you’re dehydrated, your body cuts down on mucus production,” says Stasney. Your vocal folds vibrate about 100 times a second when you speak – and mucus protects them from friction, which can cause swelling, irritation and injury. Result: you could start sounding about as dulcet toned as Darren Lockyer.