Work From Home? Take Time to Care for Your Voice

Even if you’re working from home, your meeting schedule can still be relentless. It’s call after call, meeting after meeting. No wonder your voice sounds hoarse by the time you log off for the evening. If too many video calls are vexing your vocal cords, try these suggestions to care for your voice while working from home. 

Video Calls and Your Voice  

While voice problems are most often associated with singing, the pandemic work-from-home trend brought the problem to a wider audience with a constant barrage of video calls. 

“It turns out that Zoom is a challenging acoustic environment,” says Lucian Sulica, M.D., director of the Sean Parker Institute for the Voice at Weill Cornell Medicine and Sean Parker Professor of Laryngology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “In an effort to be heard, people have a natural tendency to overproduce their voices on Zoom.” 

While Dr. Sulica mentions Zoom specifically, heavy use of any remote meeting platform can strain the voice. Plus, with children taking classes remotely and other members of your household also working from home, you may find you’re speaking more in general. 

Suggestions for Sore Throats 

Singers have dealt with the challenges of vocal self-care for years, and medical science backs up many of their tried-and-true remedies for good vocal health. 

  • Hydrate with plenty of water. You can also try warm, clear beverages such as herbal teas. 
  • Sit up straight and fill your lungs with deep breaths. As singers say, “support your voice.” 
  • Use a humidifier to keep air (and vocal cords) moist. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recommends 30% humidity in your house. If you are unsure of your home’s humidity level, you can invest in a hygrometer which can measure the air in your home for you. 
  • When possible, rest your voice. Take short breaks when you can and find longer periods of silence during your free hours. 

Hack Your Home Office 

A few simple steps can also make your home office easier on your voice. Get a good microphone so you don’t feel like you must strain your voice speaking up. Headphones can also provide good feedback and protect you from speaking louder than you need to. 

Protect Your Vocal Reserves 

Some physicians use the term vocal cache to describe vocal energy. Think of your voice as a well. You have only so much water to draw from your well each day, so use it sparingly. For example, if you plan to host a gathering in the evening, limit your voice use during the day. Be aware that illnesses and affecting your throat may also drain your vocal reserves. 

When to Speak Up 

Whether you work from home or as an old-school carnie barker, it’s time to talk to your healthcare provider if vocal problems don’t resolve with these strategies. Your provider can help you pinpoint other conditions, such as acid reflux or a respiratory infection your body hasn’t been able to shake, that might affect your voice. Together, you can create a voice care plan that works for you. 

Keep your voice clear and healthy and make an appointment with a provider at Weill Cornell Medicine. Find a provider today.