How to Keep Your Throat Healthy With 6 Easy Tips
Practice Good Health Habits To Avoid Getting Sick
We rarely give much thought to our throat unless it begins to hurt, feel dry, or make no sounds when we wake up. When this happens, we go from not giving our throats much thought to not giving much thought to anything else, especially when we feel pain every time we swallow. Then we run around looking for something to take to help it return to normal.
During flu and cold season, most of us are getting better at preparing to head off as many germs as possible. We build up our immune system, get a flu shot, wash our hands more often, and learn to direct our cough and sneezes into our bent arms.
Let's face it, you can't be a part of the human race and not come into contact with all sorts of germs and people who are sick. Practicing good health habits is the best way to avoid getting sick.
Six Ways to Keep Your Throat Healthy
Your throat is a finely tuned structure of tissues, nerves, glands, and blood vessels. It needs looking after. If you overuse some of the delicate organs and tissues of the throat, you’ll end up with problems, or even damage, to those organs and tissues.
Learning how to take care of your throat is easy, and in most cases, the benefits are well worth the effort. Here are six of my favorite ways for keeping your throat healthy:
1. Protect Your Throat From Cold Temperatures
Get in the habit of wearing a scarf around your neck to keep the throat area warm. Do you know that the neck is one of the most overlooked sources of heat loss? Anywhere from 40-50% of our body heat can be lost from the surface of the head and neck. Changes in extreme temperatures, such as going from a heated car into the cold outside and vice versa, should be avoided when possible.
2. Avoid Sharing Eating Utensils
Don't ever drink from the same glass, cup, or bottle that someone else is using, as you may be at risk for cross-contamination. The same is true for sharing eating utensils and even napkins.
3. Clean Your Toothbrush
One source of infection that is overlooked by most people is the toothbrush. Left overnight, it can be a potential source of a problem for the throat and mouth. Every morning, before brushing the teeth, soak your toothbrush in a glass of hot salt water (a teaspoon will suffice). This will help to disinfect the toothbrush and also helps keep it clean.
Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head regularly. The ADA recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months and sooner if the brush becomes frayed. It's also a good idea to store your toothbrush upright and avoid storing in closed containers. Keep your toothbrush in a dry climate instead of a moist environment which is conducive to microorganisms.
How Often Do You Replace Your Toothbrush?
4. Gargle With Salt
Gargle every night with a mixture of warm water and salt. Just a pinch of salt will do. During cold and flu season, this is a habit that will help to disinfect the mouth and throat. This is a timeless remedy, in fact -- your grandmother probably knew the benefits of making this a habit. If you catch a sore throat early enough, salt water will give you fast relief.
Bonus tip: Salt water can also be used to clear a stuffy nose. Just lightly sniff the above mixture into each nostril. You'll instantly begin breathing better through the nose.
5. Use Honey and Ginger to Protect Your Throat
One of the very best ways to protect the throat is with ginger juice and honey. After a good brush in the morning, squeeze a little fresh ginger juice (3-4 ml) with 5 ml of honey, and see for yourself what a good insurance policy this is for protecting your throat all day.
- I make my own ginger juice by boiling 2-3 slices of real ginger (found in the vegetable section), then cool it a little.
- I have also used turmeric. Simply take 1/2 cup of hot water and add a pinch of salt and 5 grams of turmeric powder to it. Drink this every night during cold and flu season to protect your throat.
- Another tip for relieving sore throat pain is to gargle with warm water and cayenne pepper. Add a pinch or two of cayenne pepper to a cup of warm water. Stir just before gargling as the pepper tens to settle at the bottom of the cup. Gargle every 15 minutes for about 30 - 40 minutes or so. If you happen to swallow a few drops don't worry. It may burn a little but it won't hurt you. Cayenne Pepper is a natural antibiotic.
6. Vocal Warm-Ups for Professionals and Teachers
Daily vocal warm-ups are a must for singers, speakers, doctors, actors, and the like. However, not just any warm-ups will do. In fact, some warm-ups can do more damage to the throat than not engaging in any at all.
- Slow, gentle humming on comfortable tones are excellent warm-ups. Feel for vibrations across the mask area. To keep the lips loose and relaxed, include the buzzing sound (buzz your lips the same way you would on a baby’s belly to make the baby giggle).
- Sigh lightly on a soft "ahhhh," feeling completely relaxed. Even yawning is an excellent warm-up for the voice.
- Imitate a siren. Beginning on a low tone, slide your voice up, through the break, and up into the head voice and back down until you reach a low tone. Use plenty of breath support and keep the sound easy and relaxed. Using the vowel "Ee" will help to keep the tone forward.
A voice should be unforced, natural, and flowing. It should be produced in an easy manner. Keep the throat well hydrated by drinking room temperature water.
Healthy Tips for the Voice
Severe Throat Conditions, Polyps, and Infections
When the Vocal Cords Are Inflamed
Fungus and bacteria can affect the vocal cords in several different ways:
- When the tissue is inflamed, the vocal cords swell making them stiffer. The vocal pitch becomes deeper from the swelling, and if the vocal cords become stiff enough, they may stop vibrating, and the person loses his or her voice (laryngitis). This is primarily from the inflammatory response of the body against the offending virus, fungus, or bacteria.
- Some types of viruses, fungus, and bacteria can physically grow on the surface of the vocal cord, and then they act like a tumor. The growth can act as a weight on a vocal cord, which stiffens the vibrating surface of the vocal cords or creates an irregularity on a vocal cord. (A possible polyp or node).
- Treatment may involve medication or at times a surgical procedure. Obviously, you want to avoid this at all costs. This can be prevented by protecting the voice from straining, yelling, and smoking.
- Avoid harsh singing or speaking when the vocal cords are inflamed. Complete rest is advised.
- Keep the throat hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Avoid coffee which is drying to the voice.
- Keep a humidifier running especially at night. Make sure you rinse it out daily to prevent mold from growing in the left-over water. This is especially helpful during the winter when the heater can dry out your home.
A Description of the Throat
The larynx, or voice box, is located in the neck and performs several important functions. The larynx is involved in swallowing, breathing, and voice production. Sound is produced when the air that passes through the vocal cords causes them to vibrate and create sound waves in the pharynx, nose, and mouth. The pitch of the sound is determined by the amount of tension on the vocal folds (cords).
The vocal cords are inside the larynx which is the wonderful source for singing. These vocal cords are two small bands of tissue that stretch across the larynx causing vibrations to occur and create a pitch.
Breath is needed to make vibrations and to sustain the pitch. If you run out of air, the sound will stop.
Last But Not Least: Preventative Care for the Throat
By following the above six tips you will have more control over keeping your throat healthy. Preventative measures are always the best. Remember to stock up on hand sanitizer wipes for those shopping carts and gas pumps.
Be sure to get a good nights sleep. We need at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to maintain good health. And make time to exercise every day. Find a form of aerobic exercise that you enjoy such as dancing, tennis, walking, swimming or pilates.
Begin now to form better habits on a daily basis. Take good care of yourself. Should you have questions about throat problems, I am available to answer them below.
If your body is not in shape to sing from the diaphragm, you will push and push but keep falling back on your throat to make the sound. This will ruin your voice.— Luciano Pavarotti
Recipes for Natural Gargling and Sore Throat Cures
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Can I take ginger juice and honey daily during the rainy season for throat health?
Yes, but only a little honey.Helpful 2
I always feel phlegm in my throat. How can I clear my throat with home remedies?
Phlegm is made worse with dairy products. They can even be the cause of phlegm. Avoid dairy and never clear your throat. Swallow a few times instead of clearing your throat.Helpful 9
How to increase the volume of my voice which has reduced over the years..?
The 2 most important factors for projecting your voice is:
1. Use diaphragmatic breathing.
2. Make sure you are mixing your voice by incorporating the chest register during the transition from the chest to the head voice.
Never sing hard! Always support your tone with plenty of belly breath.Helpful 7
As a singer, which foods can I eat?
The best thing you can do is to maintain a healthy diet. Avoid dairy products before singing as dairy can produce mucus. Limit sugar and junk food. Your body is your instrument so take good care of it.Helpful 2
© 2011 Audrey Hunt