19.05.2015

The hazards of habitual throat clearing

 Show Interest

The hazards of habitual throat clearing

 Show Interest

We all have to clear our throats at times, just as we have to cough; and whilst it can't always be helped, it is very hard on the voice.  It can also make for a weak, awkward or nervous sounding start to speech - not a desirable choice for any voice user.

So assuming there is no cold virus or infection, why does habitual throat clearing occur and how can it be avoided?

There are several answers to this, but one of the common causes is excessive phlegm or mucus.  There is something 'sticking' in the throat which needs to be dislodged.

Dairy (includes milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream, chocolate) has a tendency to produce mucus.  For this reason, it is advisable to avoid dairy directly before voice use, as you may find you feel 'clogged up' and need to keep clearing your throat or coughing before you speak, or even during your speech.

Excessive mucus can also be a warning sign that the voice has been overworked or 'pushed':  the body produces mucus as protection. If you have forced your voice, you will probably feel a little 'scratchy' or even sore.

To aid vocal recovery in this circumstance, inhale steam (either head over a bowl or with a steamer - no additives just boiling water); rest, and then ensure correct voice use to prevent further damage. 

I have been working as a voice and speech coach since 2006 and am also a professional actor with 30 years experience (nominated for a Manchester Theatre Award 2014). I train people to speak clearly,…

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