A speech therapist demonstrates an exercise to open up the vocal cords
By Preeti Jha
Speech and language therapists have urged people to "protect and make the most of their voices".
The Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport marked World Voice Day by offering free advice and techniques.
Its speech and language therapists demonstrated vocal exercises during an open day on Thursday.
The event was aimed at people who rely on their voices, such as singers, teachers, lecturers and call centre workers.
But speech therapist Salianne Newman said: "We want everyone to get the best out of their voice."
While voice problems could be the result of organic causes including nodules, polyps or lesions on the vocal cord, they can also be the consequence of strain, stress or anxiety.
Karen Tarran, a speech and language therapist at the hospital, said: "About 60% of my caseload is non organic problems."
Former patients also attended the open day to share their experiences.
Kita Williams said: "About 18 months ago I was intermittently losing my voice for no apparent reason, I'd just wake up one morning and there would be nothing there."
When it was confirmed she had no structural abnormalities Mrs Williams underwent speech therapy.
"Being a typical Welsh woman I talk too much, I talk too fast and I don't breathe enough," she said.
But after practising breathing techniques and other exercises she said: "I haven't lost my voice now for over six months."
Rest and hydration are essential to protect the voice, said Ms Newman.
"Listen to your voice, and seek advice if you're having problems," she added.
Ali Raza, an ear nose and throat consultant at the hospital, said: "It's important to protect your voice, especially in professions where you overuse your voice, such as teaching or singing, because if you don't it can cause long-lasting damage to the vocal cords."
"Make sure you're not straining your voice - not shouting or whispering, but talking in a comfortable voice range," he added.
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