We singers, actors, and professional voice users have been known to be very careful about our own voice care and training. Well, OK, FANATIC about our voice care and training! While others are carousing and being loud, we’re being a little bit Diva about avoiding phonotrauma (i.e., forceful behaviors like yelling or shouting over noise). While others are having cocktails, we’re having alkaline water. And don’t forget that obsession of singers: facial steaming. If you’re like me, you’ve spent countless sessions sticking your face over a hot steam facial spa, pot of water, or steaming cup of tea. And I’ve always sworn by steam’s effects: loosening clogging mucus, moistening the tissues of the mouth and nose, giving me a glowing complexion. And I THOUGHT I was doing an effective job of moistening my vocal folds.
Then, I took a course in vocal hygiene with an esteemed colleague, Kristine Tanner, PhD, CCC-SLP. Imagine my jaw dropping when I heard her say, “Steaming is pointless”. What??? After all these years happily steaming over my facial spa, you’re telling me that it’s all for naught? Dr. Tanner told us that the particles of steam may be too large to reach the vocal folds, and may simply deposit in the nose or back of the mouth and throat. If you’re not careful, the particles that reach the larynx (a.k.a., the voice box) can cause cough. (Our work-around is to “sip” the steam through a small pursed-lips opening so that you don’t cough). And steam that’s too hot can be uncomfortable or harmful. (Yes, we’ve also heard of people who leaned on the hot pot handle or dumped the water by accident – OUCH!). Sure, breathing steam through your nose can help relieve nasal congestion and help you avoid mouth-breathing (which would, of course, dry out your throat). But is there a better way to moisturize your tissues effectively and avoid the pitfalls?
Don’t worry, there IS an effective alternative! Dr. Tanner, along with numerous other researchers, found that nebulized isotonic saline solution, specifically 0.9% saline solution, was more effective than ordinary steam at moisturizing the outer membranes of the vocal folds and the entire respiratory system. (Note: 0.9% isotonic saline matches the cellular balance of ions in the human body, according to Dr. Tanner). One study even included subjects with Sjögren’s syndrome, a condition which causes significant dryness. Subjects in the studies reported that their perception of phonatory effort (i.e., the amount of effort you need to use to produce voice) was reduced after using nebulized saline. The use of nebulized saline was shown to reduce Phonation Threshold Pressure, that is, the amount of pressure or force you have to use to set your vocal folds into vibration to make sound. So, you get to work less to produce sound, your vocal stamina improves, and there is less likelihood of injury to your cords. A win-win, since the particles of nebulized saline are smaller than those of traditional steam and can more effectively reach your cords.
So, we at Professional Voice Care Center set about finding the perfect nebulizer for your voice. It had to be small, portable, rechargeable, and reliable. We found a nebulizer that’s all that, and more….because it’s also warrantied for 6 months. The VocalMist vocal nebulizer is a wonderful product for all singers and professional voice users. So wonderful, in fact, that Professional Voice Care Center became a VocalMist Affiliate*. We’re able to offer our readers a discount on the VocalMist nebulizer and Hydration Solution bundle, if you sign up for our mailing list here.
Watch our video to learn more about this fantastic vocal nebulizer and see it in action. Once you try it, we think you’ll agree: VocalMist is your voice’s new best friend! (P.S.: VocalMist also makes a great gift for that singer or professional voice user on your list). Wishing you the Choice Voice you’ve always wanted!
To sign up for Professional Voice Care Center’s mailing list, to receive the VocalMist discount code and other voice care tips, click here!
*(Disclosure: Professional Voice Care Center receives money from VocalMist for purchases made through our affiliate link).