The April 23 article on, "You Voice Holds Clues to Your Health", University of Michigan vocal health specialist Dr. Norman D. Hoglikyan says that changes in your voice can be a sign of anything from a cold to acid reflux, throat cancer or vocal cord paralysis.  This is something most singers probably know already.  Dr. Hoglikyan offers the following advice on keeping your voice healthy - some of these suggestions you may have seen before:

  1. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.  A proper water balance helps keep your vocal cords lubricated;

  2. Don't smoke.  It greatly increases the risk of throat cancer, and smoke (even secondhand smoke) irritates the vocal cords;

  3. Don't abuse or misuse your voice.  Don't yell or scream and try not to talk loudly in noisy areas.  If your throat feels dry and tired or your voice is getting hoarse, stop talking.  Don't alter your voice to speak in a pitch that's higher or lower than normal;

  4. Don't clear your throat too often.  Clearing your throat is like slamming your vocal cords together.  Doing it too often can damage your vocal cords.  Instead of clearing your throat, take a sip of water or swallow.  If you feel you have to clear your throat alot, get checked for reflux disease, allergy or sinus conditions

  5. Don't talk when you're hoarse because of a cold or infection.

For more information on how to protect your voice and/or to recognize vocal problems, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery website at