WORK AND HEALTH: JOBS THAT ENDANGER OUR VOCAL CORDS

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by PATRIZIA PELUSO

Among the things that set us apart and make us unique, the voice is one of the really special characteristics. We can change the color of the hair at will, make up our eyes or use a particular frame of glasses to have the look that best represents us: it is something that helps us gain self-confidence and gives us personality. .

Our voice, on the other hand, is a very difficult element to change, which makes us unique and depends on many factors. Think of the punchy voices we hear in commercials: the right tone and volume can be hypnotic, compelling and seductive. And the voices of politicians haranguing in the square? They communicate determination, confidence and control. It is a real tool and as such it can be very valuable if you know how to use it, however it can be damaged if it is not used correctly: in this case there will be dysphonia.

Today we will discuss the subject of dysphonia due to the inappropriate use of the voice at work. In fact, many of us work with the voice: not just singers or entertainers, but obviously all professionals for whom part of the job relies on the use of the vocal cords. Professionals who recognize themselves in this description must be attentive to the quality of their voice and carry out a periodic self-analysis which enables them to apprehend possible changes: in this case it will be advisable to deepen with a specialized visit. But who are we talking about? Examples of occupations at risk are those of anyone working in call centres, teachers, singers, salespeople, auctioneers, switchboard operators, preachers, politicians, lawyers, tour guides, hairdressers and doctors.

But what are the harmful behaviors for the vocal cords at work?

For example, the need to speak too many hours a day, or the need to raise the volume of our voice a lot when we speak due to noisy contexts. In addition, it may be necessary to speak in environments that are not adequate to keep our vocal cords healthy, such as places with poor acoustics, with unfavorable temperature and humidity conditions, with background noise or in excessively hot, excessively cold, or dusty environments. The consequence of improper use of our vocal cords is therefore the so-called “dysphonia”, ie the subjective perception of a change in our voice.

So how do you avoid dysphonia?

It would be important for those who continuously use their voice to acquire basic knowledge of vocal technique, in order to get the most out of their vocal cords without negative effects. These notions can be provided during specific interviews by personnel specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of vocal cord problems: the speech therapist, the speech therapist, the otolaryngologist. Prevention is the key to avoiding these conditions: the doctor specializing in the study of the voice can educate the professional to speak correctly.

But what happens from an organic point of view of the vocal cords being over- or under-stressed? What does the doctor see when looking at the vocal cords of a person with work-related dysphonia through a fiber laryngoscope?

When we’re tired, but trying the same thing, we instinctively use a series of muscles that aren’t strictly necessary for speech. These muscles, day after day, get used to contracting each time we speak, even when we do not force our voice: a state of general inflammation is then created and the person is no longer able to voluntarily control phonation. Improper use of the vocal cords can also lead to the formation of polyps on their surface, clearly visible to the speech therapist or otolaryngologist.

If the professional develops dysphonia, the doctor will be able to diagnose the cause of the problem through a special visit that involves the use of a fibrolaryngoscope, a special voice analysis program, a microphone, the production of a sonogram, the compilation questionnaires. . Spectroacoustic voice examination and fiber optic evaluation will be carried out even after rehabilitation, to verify the improvements obtained. After the diagnosis, the patient will be referred to an expert, the speech therapist, who can rehabilitate the vocal cords through appropriate treatment to solve the problem and re-educate the professional in the correct use of the voice.

There are also several other causes of voice changes such as smoking and mood. But we will talk about it in the next article.

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