Call Center agents, along with teachers or educators are considered professional voice users. They are people with vocally demanding occupations, thus, making them more susceptible to developing voice disorders. This simple guide aims to empower these professionals to practice proper vocal health management in order to promote and maintain good vocal health.
How is Voice Produced?
Air from the lungs comes up and passes through the vocal cords. The vocal cords produce a buzz-like sound when air gets them to vibrate.
This sound is modified into a resonant tone as it passes up through the mouth, throat and nose, and is further modified by the position of the palate, tongue, and lips.
Most common mistake of voice professionals
- Voice Abuse– Talking in a noisy environment for more than 1 hr; Talking for a prolonged period of time in a high volume voice, shouting or yelling
- Voice Misuse– talking in a pitch beyond the optimum; talking without breath support.
Common Vocal Complaints of Voice Professionals
- VOCAL FATIGUE symptoms:
- dry mouth
- a need to clear your throat
- “scratchy” or raw feeling in your throat
- achy feeling in your neck
- low pitched voice
- a general feeling of weakness when speaking
- frequent breaths or running out of breath
- reduced volume on high or low pitches
- tension in the neck, shoulders and upper chest
Change in voice quality characterized by either breathiness or roughness of voice, may or may not be associated with asthenia and strain when speaking.
- STICKY PHLEGM AT THE BACK OF THE THROAT
Usually gets you into the habit of clearing your throat; also changes vocal quality to hyponasal in nature thus making talking more difficult.
Common Conditions Leading to Vocal Symptoms
Vocal Fatigue Syndrome:
- Voice Abuse
- Voice Misuse
- Muscle Tension Dysphonia
Various Diseases causing Hoarseness
- Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Vocal Cord Lesion: Nodules, Polyps, Cysts
- Vocal Cord Hemorrhage
- Vocal Cord carcinoma
- Vocal Cord Trauma
- Vocal Cord Abuse /misuse/muscle tension
Post-nasal drip /excessively thick oral/laryngeal mucus
- Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease
***If you experience the above symptoms, visit your friendly otorhinolaryngologist at The Medical City Clark before taking any medications.
VOCAL HYGIENE PRINCIPLES
- Maintain vitality of vocal cord mucosa
- Hydration is the most important key to maintain vitality of vocal cords
Definition: the internal hydration of the entire body that keeps the skin, eyes and all other mucosal tissue healthy
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day
- Avoid the following items that cause dehydration:
Caffeine, alcohol, large doses of vitamin C, Diuretic drugs, antihistamines, cigarette smoking, and marijuana
Topical (surface) Hydration
Definition: the moisture level that keeps the epithelial surface of the vocal folds slippery enough to vibrate
- Maintain a nice vibratory environment for the vocal cords
- Medical intervention for Laryngopharyngeal reflux
- Manage sinus problems
- Control allergies
- Avoid trauma to the mucosa by avoiding…
- Throat clearing
- Hard glottal attack
- Extensive loud talking
- Extensive talking at inappropriate pitch or excessive loudness
- Extensive talking in glottal fry
- Treat the muscle of the vocal cord mechanism like an athlete
- Vocal muscles need to be warmed up before extensive use
- Muscles need to be trained carefully and gradually
- Fatigued muscles need rest and gradual return to activity
- Cool-down can be important for many vocal athletes
- Mucosa must be kept healthy and lubricated
- Once swelling has occurred, impact to the mucosa must be reduced by going on voice rest
- Use Vocal cord mechanism wisely.
- Voice conservation should be practiced
- Avoid unnecessary talking, gossiping, and marathon videoke activity especially after a whole day of talking at work.
VOCAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT
- Identify the Source of Vocal Symptoms
- Define specific occurrences/attacks, evaluation of specific situations
- Vocal Pacing
- Use of amplifiers for lectures/training employees more than 20.
- Frequent sips of water between clients or queuing.
- Warm ups before the start of the work “day”
- Cool downs and Voice rest after work
- Plan more non-voice activity for leisure (no videoke after work, reduce recreational singing events)
- Avoid food that irritates the vocal cords (mint, caffeine, dairy products, etc.)
This article has been brought to you by the Philippine Academy of Laryngobronchoesophagology and Phoniatrics and The Medical City Clark.
Examinations available at the Voice and Swallowing Center includes Rigid Laryngeal Endoscopy, Flexible Endoscopic Laryngoscopy, stroboscopy, Flexible Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES), and Microlaryngeal surgery for various laryngeal disorders.
The Center is manned by board-certified specialists and a multi-disciplinary team complemented with advanced diagnostic equipment. Aside from voice and swallowing, it is also integrated with specialties in hearing and dizziness. For more information, contact The Medical City Clark at 045-300-8888 loc. 80008 or 0916-448-8046.
Fortuna Corazon A. Roldan, MD, FPSO-HNS
Dr. Roldan is currently the Chairman of the Philippine Academy of Laryngobronchoesophahology and Phoniatrics (PALP). She took her Laryngology Fellowship at Vanderbilt Voice Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. She is also a Fellow of the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (PSO-HNS), and took her ORL-HNS Residency at Philippine General Hospital. Has a Medical Degree at the University of the Philippines – College of Medicine, Bachelor of Science in Public Health at UP-CPH.