Practice Good Vocal Hygiene
As Rosen explains, "We all learned as kids that dental hygiene involves doing something - or multiple things - every day to make sure we have healthy teeth for the rest of our lives.
It’s the same thing with daily vocal habits to keep our voices healthy and strong."
Rosen recommends drinking lots of water, not smoking, and avoiding abuse of the voice such as yelling, screaming or excessively clearing your throat, especially when the vocal folds, or vocal cords, within larynx are already inflamed due to a cold or infection.
“Monitor how much you abuse your voice, in what situations you could talk in a more appropriate tone or volume, to allow those vocal folds to heal.”
Watch Your Pitch
According to the National Center for Voice & Speech, speaking at a pitch that’s either too low or too high can strain your vocal cords. If you suspect that your pitch is inappropriate for you, consider seeking the help of a trained speech therapist.
To get an idea of the natural pitch for your voice, try saying “mm-hmm,” as if you’re answering in agreement with someone. Carry that note or pitch over as you begin a sentence. If you typically speak at a pitch that’s higher or lower than this, you may be putting undue strain on your voice.
The National Center for Voice & Speech also cites the notes at which you naturally cough or laugh as signs of your own "perfect pitch.
Rosen cautions that in recent years, laryngopharyngeal reflux - or backwash of irritating stomach acids onto your larynx - has been blamed for too many cases of chronic hoarseness.
While true reflux is difficult to diagnose with certainty, Rosen says that hoarseness upon wakening in the morning, especially if a scratchy voice improves during the day as more mucus is produced and the body starts to heal the inflammation, is a pretty good indication of reflux problems, even in the absence of heartburn symptoms.
If this sounds familiar, avoid triggers like caffeine, alcohol, acidic or spicy foods and eating within 3 or 4 hours of bedtime. Ask your physician for advice and whether anti-reflux medication is a good option for you.