Vocal Health: Hydration

WATER AND VOCAL HEALTH

Proper hydration is important for physical health, and especially important for singers and other professionals who rely heavily on their voices during the course of their work. Water is the primary lubricant for the vocal tract. Lubrication of the vocal folds is necessary for efficient vibration when speaking or singing.

WHAT ARE YOU MADE OF?

The primary component of the human body is water. Water is involved in transport of the body's nutrients, elimination of waste products, lubrication of moving parts, and maintenance of moisture on body surfaces that come into contact with air. Water is important for nearly all natural chemical processes within the body.

Water constitutes 65% (for women) to 72% (for men) of an average adult's body mass. According to some estimates, the human brain in nearly 85% water!

A LONG TALL DRINK OF WATER

If you are a singer or other vocal professional who uses the voice heavily, special care should be taken to keep your body and the air you breath well hydrated. Damage and wear take place at a much greater rate when the body is dehydrated.

Here are a few guidelines:*
  • Drink 7-10 8 oz. glasses of water daily (assuming normal kidney function)
  • Room temperature water is preferable.
  • Drinking cold water before singing may slow the responsiveness of the muscles of the throat.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can contribute to dehydration.
  • Decaf and herbal teas can be beneficial to the voice, by providing warmth, hydration, and humidity without the drying effects of caffeinated drinks. Throat Coat tea is especially good for singers.
  • If you chose not to give up caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, offset losses due to their diuretic effects by refilling the cup, mug, glass or container with water and drinking it all.
  • Avoid dairy products, which can increase mucous production
  • Minimize salty and sugary foods and beverages, which can contribute to dehydration
  • Avoid carbonated beverages, which can lead to acid reflux.

Twelve 8 oz. bottles of water are shown in the photo above. If you drink water from plastic bottles, please, recycle!

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR
Indoor Humidity

  • Healthy indoor humidity is 40-60%.
  • Body moisture is lost though breathing in low humidity climates, i.e., air conditioned or heated rooms (routinely 10-20% moisture), cars, buses, airplanes, etc.
  • Use a humidifier in dry weather, or year round if you live in a dry climate.
  • Humidity is measured by a hygrometer. Basic indoor hygrometers are available for $20-40 from many online retailers.
  • Maintaining healthy indoor humidity also reduces the presence of allergens such as dust mites, mold and mildew. Even someone without allergies may experience vocal fold irritation if these are present in their living environment.
  • Keep your humidifier clean to avoid spreading mold and mildew into the air.

General

  • Avoid singing with a dry throat.
  • Inhale through your nose rather than your mouth. The nose warms and moistens the air before is passes over your vocal folds.
  • Don't smoke
  • Avoid smoky environments
  • Wash your hands frequently to avoid becoming ill

WHEN YOU'RE ILL

  • Increased hydration to aid in healing
  • Thin mucus by increasing your water intake
  • If you have a cold, use a humidifier if the climate is dry
  • Avoid heavy voice use if your throat is inflamed or sore
  • Get sufficient rest
  • Rest your voice when it is tired

MEDICATIONS AND VOCAL HYDRATION
Some prescriptions and over the counter medications can lead to dehydration.

  • Antihistamines and decongestants can contribute to dehydration of the vocal folds.
  • Some pain relievers, such as Anacin and Excedrin, contain caffeine, which can lead to dehydration. Read labels carefully.
  • Diuretics increase urine production. It is necessary to offset this loss by increasing water intake.
  • If necessary, thick mucus can be thinned by using expectorants such as Robitussin.

See NCVS Prescribed Medications and Their Effects on Voice and Speech to determine whether the medication you take may have an adverse effect on your vocal system.

LEARN MORE:
Water in the Body
Wikipedia - Body Water

*[NOTE: The contents of this site are not meant to be interpreted as medical advice. Consult your doctor if you plan to make significant changes to your daily health routine.]

©2007 Kay Pere ~ Effusive Muse Publishing

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