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Since more people started working from home and engaging in online meetings, working professionals may experience vocal fatigue and even a risk of voice disorders from spending long hours talking on electronic devices. Ms Laura Chua, Principal Speech Therapist, SKH, shared that the signs of vocal fatigue include hoarseness, cracking of the voice, throat discomfort, soreness, and neck pain. It occurs in relation to voice use, unlike sore throat which is associated with a cold or other common viral infections and is usually accompanied by symptoms such as cough, runny nose, or fever.
Just as legs can get tired from running, voice muscles can tire after a period of talking without breaks, causing vocal fatigue. Ms Chua suggested that getting a voice rest as soon as possible is crucial to recover from vocal fatigue, even if it is just for 5 - 20 minutes. She also shared other tips and suggestions on how one may reduce the risk of developing vocal fatigue and what to do if a person is already showing symptoms. Explaining that a voice disorder refers to a problem with the quality (clarity), pitch, and volume of the voice, Ms Chua shared that vocal fatigue can be a resulting symptom of a voice disorder or may increase the risk of developing a voice disorder.
If a person experiences symptoms of vocal fatigue persisting for more than 2 - 3 weeks, Ms Chua advises him/her to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ideally, one who specializes in voice) who can identify any structural or functional conditions that may be contributing to the symptoms.