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How to Keep Your Throat Healthy With 6 Easy Tips

Audrey's vast background as an international vocal teacher gives us important tips for keeping our voices healthy.

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.

Most of us are getting better at preparing to head off as many germs as possible during flu and cold season. We build up our immune system, get a flu shot, wash our hands more often, and learn to direct our coughs 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. Keeping Your Toothbrush Germ Free

One source of infection that most people overlook 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) to help disinfect the toothbrush and 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 it in closed containers. Keep your toothbrush in a dry climate instead of a moist environment that is conducive to microorganisms.

4. Gargle With Saltwater

Gargle every night with a mixture of warm water and salt. Just a pinch of salt will do. During cold and flu season, this habit will help to disinfect the mouth and throat. It is a timeless remedy -- your grandmother probably knew the benefits of making this a habit. If you catch a sore throat early enough, saltwater will give you fast relief.

Bonus tip: Saltwater can also clear a stuffy nose. 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 ginger juice by boiling 2-3 slices of natural ginger (found in the vegetable section), then cool it slightly.
  • I have also used turmeric. 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

Daily vocal warm-ups are a must for singers, speakers, doctors, actors, and the like. However, not just any warm-ups will do. Some warm-ups can do more damage to the throat than not engaging in any at all.

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  • 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.

Note:

A voice should be unforced, natural, and flowing. It should be produced effortlessly. Keep the throat well hydrated by drinking room temperature water.

Severe Throat Conditions, Polyps, and Infections

Strep throat

Strep throat

Polyps or vocal nodules (nodes)

Polyps or vocal nodules (nodes)

Severe sore throat with infection

Severe sore throat with infection

What To Do 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 their voice (laryngitis). The cause is primarily from the body's inflammatory response 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. You want to avoid this at all costs. Protect 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.

Healthy Tips for the Voice

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.

Anatomy of the throat

Anatomy of the throat

Conclusion

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 night's 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.

Keep your distance from people who are sick; You never know if a nearby cough or sneeze is because of allergies or something more serious like the flu.

Begin now to form better habits daily. 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

Question: I always feel phlegm in my throat. How can I clear my throat with home remedies?

Answer: 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.

Question: How to increase the volume of my voice which has reduced over the years..?

Answer: 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.

Question: As a singer, which foods can I eat?

Answer: 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.

Question: Can I take ginger juice and honey daily during the rainy season for throat health?

Answer: Yes, but only a little honey.

© 2011 Audrey Hunt

Comments

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 02, 2020:

Thank you for reading my article. During these difficult times, we all need to practice good health.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 02, 2020:

Tatyana

Thanks for reading my article and finding it helpful. During these difficult times, it's important to take care of ourselves and practice the rules for good health. Stay safe!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 20, 2020:

success79

Thank you, kindly for reading my article on "How to Keep Your Throat Healthy." I appreciate your comments very much."

Audrey

Sonia from New York on February 08, 2020:

Very well written article with good tips and insights. Also written with clarity.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on October 30, 2019:

Ruthanne

I'm so sorry about this problem. Have you seen an otolaryngologist? Perhaps it's time. This must be frustrating for you. Try not to get to the point where you're depressed. Do think about seeing another doctor or throat specialist. I wish you well and do let me know what another doctor has to say.

Audrey

Ruthanne Anthony on October 30, 2019:

Started off having thrush. 3 rounds of meds taken. Doc said gone but have felt just as bad ever since. Now my throat hurts just as bad no meds. This has been going on about 2 .5 mos. I just wnt it gone .to feel like me . I jye thi. Im tired. Please lord help me be ,

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on February 23, 2019:

Hey, vocalcoauch, I appreciated your comments. My best to you, and thanks.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 22, 2019:

Miebakagh,

You are so welcome. This should have been noted and I've made the changes. Thanks to you!

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on February 22, 2019:

Hello, Audrey Hunt, I appreciated your comments, especially the part that says to dilute pepper with plenty of water to ease a hurt. Thanks for sharing, and have a nice weekend.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 21, 2019:

Miebakagh,

Thank you kindly for sharing my article on Facebook. So nice of you!

The different remedies you've mentioned in your comments are all helpful. Adding cayenne pepper to warm water is fine as long as it's just a pinch or two. You will need to constantly stir the elixir right before you gargle as the cayenne likes to settle at the bottom. Also, gargle every 15 min. If you happen to swallow some pepper, it may burn, but cayenne is a natural antibiotic and won't hurt you.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 19, 2018:

Hello, Miebakagh Fiberesima

So nice to find you here, reading my article on keeping the throat healthy. I'll try the lime juice in warm water. The reason I mentioned cayenne pepper is that it helps stop the pain due to a sore throat. When diluted with plenty of water, there is no damage to the tissues. I want to thank you for posting this hub on Facebook.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 19, 2018:

Hi, Audrey Hunt, this is a good article. I regularly used lime juice in warm water to gangle my throat, so that cold or flu could not affect me and my family. Using ginger is also good. But I was surprised you include cayenne pepper. I think this would be much hurtful to the soft and tenderly tissues of the throat. I learned about using salt water to wash mouth and throat from an Indian doctor while in secondary school. I am sharing this your story on facebook. Thank you.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 07, 2018:

Rachael

I suggest you see an Otolaryngologist (throat doctor.) He will examine your throat and diagnose the problem. I wish you good luck.

Rachael on July 07, 2018:

Whenever I eat,I feel like some of the food particles has shocked my throat.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on January 04, 2018:

Michael

I would consult with your doctor on this matter. My expertise is in teaching folks how to avoid vocal problems in the first place. I do, however, suggest you avoid further singing, talking for long periods of time, whispering or screaming. I wish you fast healing if you go with surgery.

lourica

We can't live without drinking water! I suggest a visit to the doctor may be in order. I wish you good luck.

Lourica on January 03, 2018:

Is it possible to have a sore throat with no pain? Sometimes it is extremely difficult to swallow water and at times it makes me very dehydrated. I can swallow food just fine but water is such a problem for whatever reason. It is killing me! Any suggestions?

Michael on December 27, 2017:

Question - I was recently diagonosed with a throat polyup on one vocal chord. What specific tactics can you give me to treat this. I have done a lot of research but you seem to be an expert. I want to avoid surgery, but it seems like it's 50-50 whether this would be needed. Please help.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 25, 2017:

Hi Ciaran

Thanks for reading my article. I'm adding one more tip for keeping the voice healthy - Avoid Screaming. :) Not sure if you can do this with your job. However, if you learn diaphragmatic breathing this can help some.

Glad these tips are helpful for you. This is my reason for writing this hub.

My best to you.

Audrey

Ciaran on August 25, 2017:

Hi i am a livestock auctioneer I take manuka honey tablets to help look after my throat I find ur tips and advice helpful is there anything else I can do to keep my voicebox/throat healthy???

Amrita Aswani on June 25, 2017:

I am an aspiring singer. I sing all the songs in different voices depending on how my throats supports..almost four times a week, my throat doesn't support. I practice fr an hour and my throats feels sore and uncomfortable. I want a stronger throat. I want to know if there are more tips that can be used to have a much stronger throat so that I can sing for long hours and still not feel tired.

Maira on February 03, 2017:

Not everyone among us is a singer, but it does not mean that throat clearing is not your concern. You should never take your throat for granted for it is one of the greatest blessings we human have. When the throat is itchy, feels dry or swollen or there is a problem in producing voice, it has to be dealt in a way that offers you no side effects. What’s more better than dealing with few home ingredients.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 27, 2016:

sunil singh

Tell me exactly what your throat problem is. The more specific you are the more I can help you.

Thanks,

vocalcoach

sunil singh on July 26, 2016:

hi, i have throat prob ,100

what i do

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 19, 2016:

Awais

Thanks for reading my article. Eat garlic, either raw or added to food. Garlic helps to control phlegm.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 19, 2016:

Awais

Garlic helps to reduce phlegm better than most other natural remedies. Either mix garlic with your food or eat it raw. I have tried both which works well. Thank you.

Audrey

Awais on April 19, 2016:

Dear expert,

I have a feeling of phlegm in my throat that just wont go away.I need to press my throat with my hand to constrict it while coughing.This gives me short term relief.This feeling of mine aggravates in closed rooms etc. Kindly advise!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 05, 2016:

Thank you for your comments. I hope to see you again.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 22, 2015:

Khushboo - I suggest the following:

1. Speak in a relaxed tone. Tension will strain your vocal cords.

2. Keep your throat hydrated by sipping on room temperature water throughout the teaching sessions.

3. Avoid dairy as this is the cause of phlegm.

4. Never xlear your throat. Swallow a few times instead.

5. Breathe from the diaphragm

6. When you can, do a few neck rolls and shoulder shrugs to release tension.

You do not have to quit your job. Ridiculous!

Thanks,

Audrey

Khushboo on December 17, 2015:

Hi,

I am a teacher and sometimes speak continuously for more than 8 hours,

My cords swell and i choke up many times.

My ent says quit your job

But i can't.

Please suggest me

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 13, 2015:

My pleasure, Audrey, Always good to hear from you.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 13, 2015:

rebeccamealey - Strep is the worst! It can lead to other problems. Glad to see you here and thanks.

Kristen Howe - Glad you are sharing this information on keeping our throats healthy. A sore throat, especially strep, is no picnic. The pain that occurs when swallowing can be terrible. Thanks for your comments Kristen. My best to you.

Audrey

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on November 13, 2015:

Audrey, these are great tips I'll be happy to give to my SIL, since she had gotten Strep a few times this year. I'll keep these tips for myself for this cold and flu season. Thanks for this hub!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 21, 2015:

Ouch! I used to get Strepp every year when I was a kid. Cool idea for a hub, and thanks for sharing with ua.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 08, 2014:

sosown

I'm so sorry to hear that you had throat cancer and hope you are completely well and enjoying good health. I, too have ginger every day!

sosown on December 07, 2014:

Had vocal chord cancer, I have ginger every morning since. But, I didn't know about the toothbrush in salt water, great tip I am going to start tomorrow.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 06, 2014:

prasetio30

Thank you my friend for reading this hub and commenting on it. It is important to keep the throat healthy. Glad it was useful. Take care.

Audrey

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on November 07, 2014:

Very informative hub. I should taking care my throat after rearing this hub. Thanks for sharing. My vote always for you. Take care!

Prasetio

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 06, 2014:

martin - Thank you for reading my hub on keeping your throat healthy. And yes, this is my favorite quote. Come by and see me again. vocalcoach

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 06, 2014:

Stephanie36

Hi there and thanks for being here Stephanie. About your toothbrush. Many of us fail to realize that when we get sick and use our toothbrush, we keep using it even when we are well again. We either need to clean it, using lemon juice or soda or toss it and get a new one.

Glad you learned something from my hub. Take care my friend. Audrey

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 06, 2014: