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Candidates Risk Harming Voice in Final Week to Super Tuesday

Voice doctors' tips to candidates good for supporters too

DENVER, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With the high stakes of Super Tuesday a week away, presidential candidates may want to heed advice from two of the country's leading voice experts to ensure their voices stay healthy for stump speeches and pep rallies leading up to February 5, which can be equally helpful to others on the campaign trail such as cheering supporters, political pundits, and media analysts, or people who talk and travel a lot for their profession.

The increased frequency of candidate's speeches, in addition to their traveling in and out of diverse environmental conditions (potentially 22 states), can seriously harm their voice if they aren't prepared, says Dr. Andre Reed, Neurolaryngologist and Medical Director at Denver's Center for Voice & Swallowing Services (, and Dr. Ingo Titze, Director of Denver's National Voice & Speech Research Center. They looked at conditions in the top 10 delegate states common to both the DNC and GOP for Super Tuesday, and used average temperature, pollution index, humidity levels, and elevation to offer the tips for the overworked and often-traveled vocal cords.

Sleep More In Colder Climates

Frequent, sudden shifts in temperature in the Eastern and Midwestern states -- going from heated offices, cars, and hotels to the frigid outdoors several times a day -- are harshest on the airways and lungs (which support the voice) leaving them more prone to infection. Dust and bacteria from heating vents, combined with exposure to viruses, change the air we breathe so rapidly that the immune system has little time to adjust. To counteract this, more sleep is recommended in colder climates like Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and New York.

Prepare for Altitude

To reduce the risk of vocal fatigue and hoarseness, additional hydration is recommended -- 64 oz. daily, beginning 2-3 days before traveling to altitude. Additionally, taking more frequent breaths during speeches will reduce vocal strain.

Create Humidity

"Humid conditions are preferable to dryer ones for the voice, as the moist air helps keep the vocal cords hydrated, flexible and less susceptible to injury," says Dr. Titze. "It always helps to keep dry air -- like in Colorado and Arizona -- healthier by using a humidifier."

Straw Speak

"One simple and practical recommendation for candidates on the campaign trail, and others whose voices take a beating, is "phonating," or speaking into a straw for three to five minutes," Dr. Titze explains. "This simple action will help 'reset' the voice for more durability throughout the day." Professional instruction is recommended.

Short Screams

Fervent candidates and their supporters should be advised that prolonged screaming overworks larynx muscles and vocal load and can harm vocal cords. "Our screams are biologically meant to be short with breath support -- to scare the beast away. Human screaming was never meant to be sustained and repeated."

Skip Late Night Room Service

Vocal fatigue may be compounded by Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR), a common, yet largely unknown condition afflicting many frequent talkers. "With LPR, stomach gases travel into the voicebox and erode the tissues and muscles of the throat. Symptoms include chronic throat clearing, sensation of something in the back of the throat, voice change or hoarseness," Reed says. To minimize the risk of LPR, it's important to avoid eating two hours before bedtime.

SOURCE Center for Voice & Swallowing Services
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