Protecting your voice when cheering

September 7, 2012 2:09:51 PM PDT
It's not surprising that many of fans can lose their voices after an exciting sporting event, but they could be seriously injuring their vocal cords in the process.

"When you use a very loud explosive voice, you can cause significant damage to your vocal cords and that can occur with just one yell," said Dr. L. Arick Forrest of Ohio State University's Voice and Swallowing Clinic.

One yell may create a serious problem.

"A single yell will either produce a hemorrhage that will go away, or a polyp, or hemorrhagic polyp that may be permanent, unless you have it surgically removed," Forrest said.

So how do you know if you've damaged your vocal cords?

"You'll start to hear your voice crack a little bit or get a bit raspy, and that should be your clue that something is wrong here," Forrest said.

There are a few things you can do to protect them.

Try to keep quiet; not talking is the only thing that'll give the cords a rest. Drink warm water. If you must cheer, warm up your cords before the game, and once you warm up, yell with one blast, not a lot of words.

"Yelling and saying words is actually a lot harder than just like holding out a tone, like a singer would do," Forrest explained.

If you have hoarseness that lasts 24 hours or longer, it could mean possible problems. You may need voice therapy or even surgery to correct the problem. It all depends on how enthusiastic you've been.

And, there are certain medications that could put you more at risk for a vocal cord injury. Drugs that dry out the vocal cords or medications like blood thinners that could make bruising or bleeding more likely if you yell the wrong way.

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