Many people rely on their voice in order to perform the essential functions of their job. This includes performers, teachers, salespeople, and numerous others. Ironically, people in such professions are more likely to experience vocal problems due to the strain of frequent use. Preventative care and prompt evaluation of problems can help patients avoid the development of more serious conditions.
Very often people with voice disorders have difficulties deciding where to go when looking for voice therapy or recovery. After being diagnosed with a voice disorder they often try to decide if it would be better to go the physician or to the voice/singing teacher. Is always hard to decide because each professional has his or her strengths and experiences than enrich their professional life.
In our opinion nobody knows better the voice and its needs than a trained singer who have devoted years to its development, training and care. A well-trained singer experienced in his/her own body what you have to feel when working with your voice. He/she knows well all the sensorial and corporal voice phenomena.
In a dream world you would like to find a well-trained singer who is at the same time a physician. This is what Patricia Caicedo is; a professional soprano with an international performing career and a Medical doctor with years of experience working with patients with voice disorders and with people for whom the study of the voice is a way to get to know themselves better and as a way to overcome mental obstacles, fears and anxieties.
Patricia works with people with voice disorders in two areas Vocal Hygiene and Voice Therapy.
Vocal hygiene is a daily regimen to achieve and maintain a healthy voice. Vocal hygiene includes maintaining adequate hydration (6-8 glasses of water per day), minimizing exposure to noxious chemicals, no smoking of cigarettes, and the avoiding of excessive shouting, screaming or other loud voice use.
Voice therapy is a behavioral intervention technique that makes use of vocal exercises, speaker awareness and proper postures and alignment when using the voice.
Care of the Performing and Professional Voice
Voice therapy is designed to improve vocal function and quality, including exercises for vocal fold strength, flexibility, endurance, coordination and balance of the sub-systems (respiration, phonation and resonation) needed for healthy voice production.
The goals of any voice therapy program are to return the voice to normal or as near normal sounding as possible. Voice therapy is usually short to medium term, 15 sessions, over a 12 to 18 week period. Length of therapy is determined by diagnosis, the condition of the vocal folds, vocal habits, motivation and compliance with the therapeutic program.
Behavioral Voice Therapy
consists of two main parts, Vocal hygiene and exercises, to change the biomechanics of voice production. Vocal hygiene is similar to dental hygiene, a daily program to keep the voice functioning at its highest level. In order to improve your voice you should adopt healthy habits that will help you non only to improve your voice but your quality of life in general. Maintaining good nutrition and hydration is a key to vocal hygiene. Avoiding vocal abuse such as shouting, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and noxious chemicals are all part of vocal hygiene. Healthy sleep habits and a life free of stress are key to the success of the therapy.
Voice therapy is a behavioral program to adjust the biomechanical forces that produce the sound of the voice. Exercises include breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, posture and body awareness techniques, vocalizing exercises, proper placement of the vocal structures and adjustment of force or effort at the offset of the voice. Since hoarseness may evolve from various diagnoses, the type of therapy to use is determined by the diagnosis.
Hoarseness may occur due to a number of underlying causes:
Neurologic: Vocal fold polyp Vocal fold paralysis (unilateral),
Vocal fold nodules, Spasmodic dysphonia,
Vocal fold granulomas, Neuromuscular disorders such as
, Vocal fold papilloma, Essential tremor
, Reinke's Edema
, Laryngeal Stroke (Cerebral vascular accident).
: Gastroesophageal reflux,
, Post viral vagal neuropathy
, Fungal laryngitis
, Allergic laryngitis, viral laryngitis.
Voice misuse : Muscle tension, dysphonia
, Vocal fold atrophy,
Vocal fold scar/sulcus vacalis,
Pharmcological side effects.
Dietary Therapy treatment for voice disorders starts with eating a balanced diet in the appropriate amounts in order to keep one's weight at an ideal level and one's energy at a level for proper voice use. Excessive weight may lead to faulty use of the respiratory muscles extremely important for generating the power of the voice. In addition, proper hydration including 6-8 glasses of water per day is necessary to maintain adequate tissue lubrication.
Singers, especially must be careful not to eat excessively prior to or right after a performance - especially if the performance is late at night and they go to bed right afterward.