Don't damage your voice during the Super Bowl this year

Zoe Greszler • Feb 7, 2016 at 10:00 AM

This weekend will have many cheering, yelling and shouting as one team battles for the title of Super Bowl champion.

Studies now show though the traditional way of celebration can cause permanent health damage. 

Cheering on your favorite team from the stands may seem harmless enough, but doctors are cautioning fans to take steps to avoid injuries — especially to their voices.

This damage passionate fans are doing to their vocal cords can last well into the work week and beyond.

“The number one trauma to vocal cords is caused by yelling and other types of misuse of the voice,” said Fisher-Titus Medical Center’s certified speech and language pathologist Laura Lloyd. “You’re vocal cords are muscels that make a ’v’ shape at the top of the sirway. Air causes them to vibrate, which is how we talk. When we yell, the muscels swell as a way to provide cushion to prtect itself. That swelling causes hoarseness and loss of voice.”

This hoarseness can last several days. The real problem, however, comes when the damage becomes permanent after extended or continuous misuse.

“You can rupture a blood vessel in your vocal cords, causing polyp. ... Or you could develop nodules,” Lloyd said. 

Over time, repeated or continuous abuse of the vocal cords results in soft, swollen spots on the cords. These spots develop into harder, benign growths called nodules.

“Both polyps and nodules cause long-term damage,” she added. “In these cases, if hoarseness extends beyond a few days, we recommend they see an ear, nose, throat specialist (ENT) to rule out polyps or nodules, which could need voice therapy or surgery to correct.”

Lloyd suggested a couple of ways to prevent vocal cord damage.

“The number one thing is to stay hydrated,” she said. “So drink water and avoid alcohol and pop. I know that’s not what people like to do with games, but it’ll help because drinking (alcohol and caffiene) actually dehydrates the body. And don’t smoke.”

When it comes to rooting for your favorite team to score that last touchdown, Lloyd said you may want to take up alternative measures.

“Don’t yell at all if you can help it,” she said. “Instead clap or use a noisemaker or air horn.”

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