Safeguard voice from stresses of modern worldMost people regard a sweet, mellow voice as ideal for women. However, it seems like this range is becoming rarer as more Korean women’s voices have changed to a lower pitch. Research by Ahn Cheol-min ― director of the Prana Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic in Seocho, southern Seoul ― shows that the average pitch of Korean women in their 20s to 40s is currently 192.2 Hz. That figure is 28Hz lower than was reported by the Korean Society of Otorhinolaryngology 12 years ago.
Director Ahn believes that external factors, such as changes in women’s social and cultural status and environment due to the entry of women to public affairs, and people’s habits can affect the pitch of their voices.
He said that, first of all, Korean women these days are larger than in the past. Larger bodies contain thicker vocal cords, he said. Just as thicker strings on violins and guitars make lower sounds, thicker vocal cords produce lower voices.
Secondly, air and noise pollution have become more serious in modern times. Air pollution induces allergies, and stimulate vocal cords. Noise pollution also necessitates speaking louder, which also results in swollen vocal cords.
Thirdly, women have started talking more since they started taking jobs that overtax the vocal cords, such as private tutoring, telemarketing sales and teaching.
Fourthly, more people are suffering from vocal cord problems. According to the research by the Prana Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, 60% of the interviewees were shown to have problems with swollen vocal cords, polyps and knots. If you have swollen vocal cords or polyps, the mucous membrane does not vibrate properly making speech sound duller.
“One strong shock to the vocal cords, such as singing loudly at karaoke, will immediately cause polyps to appear on your vocal cords,” said Professor Sun Dong-il, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Kangnam St.Mary's Hospital.
Professor Roh Young-su, also an ear, nose and throat specialist at Kangnam St.Mary’s Hospital, advised that people should refrain from singing karaoke too often, from shouting or talking on the phone for long periods. If engaged in jobs that require frequent talking, he advises they try to speak softly, avoid clearing their throats incessantly or dry coughing and try not to speak in a low-pitched voice. Keep away from dry and dusty places and drink plenty of water so your throat doesn’t dry out. People should also avoid smoking, greasy foods, caffeine and dairy products.
Speaking habits are important as well. Refrain from speaking when short of breath or from raising your voice when angry, as such behaviors can strain or damage the vocal cord muscles.
To safeguard your voice:
* Do not clear your throat too often.
* Drink plenty water and avoid caffeine (present in coffee, coke, black tea, etc.)
* Humming in the morning helps relieve vocal cord muscles.
* Cover your throat with a scarf.
* Avoid talking in polluted places and try not to talk in a low-pitched voice.
* Refrain from drinking because alcohol and cigarettes can dry your throat.
* Do not raise your voice.
* Avoid greasy food and dairy products.
by Park Tae-kyun
Information provided by Kangnam St.Mary’s Hospital and the Prana Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic.