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Most speech-language pathologists know enough about voice disorders to put their patients on a vocal hygiene protocol as they initiate vocal rehabilitation, but what is vocal hygiene? What does it really consist of? In addition to reducing phonotrauma, it is important to educate your patient on hydration. Hydration has been shown to improve acoustic measurements like shimmer, jitter, frequency, and maximum phonation time. This is data from a recent (2017) systematic review. We sometimes lump caffeine reduction into this "hydration" category, but what are we really telling our patients? And does the research back this up? The following is a review of studies addressing caffeine and vocal hygiene.
It's everyone's worst nightmare. The dreaded nodes! Never heard of nodes? The media portrays them as an end to a singer's career, like here in the movie Pitch Perfect. Chloe, one of the Barton Bellas, is diagnosed, unfortunately with vocal nodules. Secretly, during the movie, she decides to have surgery to have them removed. The movie has a comedic theme, so she makes light of the situation which occurs post-operatively: a loss in vocal range. With her new-found bass notes accessible, she propels the group to a victory at competition with her ability to sing the male part in an all-female group. The movie ends, everyone is happy, end of story.
The Things of Nightmares....If you're like most, it's a heck of a challenge to be a "Many-Hats SLP" in a world where we are supposed to know everything about everything. With graduate school occuring when you're trying to answer big questions about the rest of your life, it leaves little opportunity to do anything more than cram in as much information as you can about some SLP subspecialties while you pray to pass your Praxis.