Category: Healing Vocal Cords

Breathing Exercise

 

Here is a video of a breathing exercise that will help with relaxation and with VCD. It comes from yoga and the exercise is demonstrated on video.

Vocal Cord Dysfunction Breathing and Exercise Videos

What Is Vocal Cord Dysfunction

When you breathe, the  vocal cords in your voice box open as you breathe in and then close over, though not fully, while you breathe out. When you speak or sing, the vocal cords vibrate to make a noise.

If it is suspected that you have VCD, you may be given a breathing test, called spirometry that looks at how air moves in and out of your lungs. Unfortunately if your suspected VCD is not active when you go for testing, your results may be normal so it can be difficult to check whether you actually have VCD.

In this case, it is possible to trigger an attack, so the cords can be watched. This can be done using an irritant or an exercise stress test, so the vocal cords can be watched in the VCD situation. The classic form of VCD shows that the vocal cords move towards each other when you breathe IN (instead of opening fully) leaving a small triangular hole for air to move through.  This is the opposite of what happens with people who have asthma, where the vocal cords close over on breathing OUT and they do not show the triangular shaped hole. VCD can often be mistaken  for asthma, which is the most common chronic illness among children.

The big difference between vocal cord dysfunction and asthma is that VCD causes more difficulty breathing in than breathing out and the opposite for asthma. It is possible to suffer from both.

Voice Therapy

It is possible to improve VCD by the use of voice therapy. This can include singing exercises. You should consult your voice therapist for exercises that will suit your condition. Many people use voice exercises from singing to help train and improve their vocal cord functions.

Singing is a great way to express yourself. You can stand or sit right where you are and sing. It is a way to communicate, creatively and effectively. Singers who want to extend their range or improve their voice, take lessons and practice various exercises. Many of these can also help improve VCD.

For some people, exercise of any sort may mean losing some sleep but for opera singers, for instance, physical fitness, as well as voice fitness is essential to their performance. Using some of these exercises may help but it will depend on the reason, (if any) nature and extent of your VCD  as to how much your voice will improve.

If you decide to practice singing, consult your voice therapist and they may advise you to keep any practice sessions to an hour or less to prevent injury to your vocal chords. You may even need to start out with ten minute sessions to build up your vocal cords. If you feel pain when practising singing exercises, consult your voice therapist.

Relaxation

Managing VCD generally involves using several techniques, such as speech therapy with emphasis on vocal cord relaxation and breathing techniques. Speech therapists can prescribe special exercises to help you be more aware of abdominal breathing and learn to relax your throat muscles. This can give you more control over your throat and breathing. The exercises should be practised when you have no symptoms, so you already know how to use them when you need to during a VCD bout. These exercises will help you improve your vocal cord movements and also improve airflow to the lungs.

Vocal Exercises

Warm up your voice first. There are many different types of good singing exercises that can be use to warm up the voice. If you are doing this to improve VCD, consult your therapist first.

Vocal Cord Exercises

Vocal cords, or vocal folds as they are more properly known, are what allow us to control the sounds that come out of our mouths. For professional singers, vocal cords need to be maintained in top condition so that they can perfectly control the pitch of their voice while performing. Like any muscle group, practice can help strengthen the control of your vocal cords. There are a wide variety of vocal cord exercises that can be done to improve your voice or help you recover from vocal cord dysfunction or injury.

The first exercise starts with a yawn. You need to open your mouth as wide as possible. By stretching your arms out, the movement will become more natural in some people. When you have finished exhaling, bring the tip of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth and take in a deep breath. On exhaling the second time you want to make the “ahhhh” sound as if you are letting go a sigh for about four seconds. The sound should come from deep within the throat, and you need to be careful to continue to make the sound throughout the exhale.

This process should be repeated at least ten times. The sounds should be done as softly as possible. It is much more important that you pay attention to the sound itself, rather than trying to strive for a loud volume. When the exercise is finished, the throat should feel very open.

The next exercise exercise starts with a deep breath taken in from your belly. This time on the exhale you will make the “oo…” sound like in stool. You should also form an “O” with your lips when exhaling the sound out. Again, the emphasis here is on form and not volume. The sound should be as low as possible. Make the sound for approximately 10 seconds.

Next, relax the cheeks and breath in through your mouth and nose. The breath should be intense enough to slightly press out the cheeks. If done correctly, you will notice the vibration in your lips. Once the breath is taken in, make the “oo” sounds again as in the first step. Repeat this exercise ten times.

The next exercise is slightly different from the last one. Again, you will begin with a deep abdominal breath. This time when blowing out you want to keep your lips together, protruding slightly from your mouth. The cheeks and lips should be relaxed as much as possible. From this position, you will make the “brrrr” sound as if you are freezing cold. You should feel the rapid vibration of the sound against your lips. Take in a deep breath as before and then repeat. Do this exercise ten separate times.

The next exercise will work within a larger range of sound. You want to start with the lowest pitched sound that you can make with your voice, and gradually work your way to the highest pitched sound that you can make. The sound you will be making this time while changing pitch is “whoop-puh” with most of the emphasis on the “whoop” while scaling up the pitch. Again, the sound should be soft with an emphasis on precise form. Ideally there should be no pause in the voice as one climbs up towards a higher pitch.

Repeat the previous exercise ten different times. When finished, reverse the process. This time you want to start with a high pitch and work down to the lowest pitch. Say the word “boom” this time. This should also be completed ten times with an emphasis in keeping the sound continuous, as before.

The above exercises help you to gain better control of your voice, and are especially good for singers. However, if your vocal cords ever become physically injured you might need some additional exercises to help to restore the function.

One of the best ways of strengthening weakened vocal cords is to repeat words starting with vowels (such as “Easter”, “old”, and “air”) over and over. Repeating “Ah, Ah, Ah” ten times in a row, putting a hard emphasis on the first word can help to strengthen your vocal cords. In addition, saying “Ah” once with a sharp voice as well as a very prolonged “Ah….” for about 10 seconds will also help. Ideally each of these exercises should be done ten times in a row for three times per day if suffering from weakened vocal cords.

Learning to relax the throat is also important to recover from some vocal cord injuries. This is particularly important for people who have conditions such as vocal cord dysfunction where the cords tighten up on an inward breath, mimicking the symptoms of asthma.

To practice relaxing the vocal cords, start on your back with your feet touching the floor. Concentrate on relaxing your upper body, particularly your head, shoulders, and throat. Inhale slowly in through the nostrils and exhale through slightly pursed lips making a “shhhh” sound. Make sure to be cognizant of your abdomen to gauge the breath as you perform this exercise. After doing it on the floor, try it in different postures while seated.

Your vocal cords can exercised like other voluntary muscles in your body. Whether you are a singer looking for a more melodious voice or a person who has suffered severe trauma to the throat, you can use the techniques outlined in this article to improve the function of your voice box.

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How To Improve Vocal Cord Dysfunction

How To Heal Vocal Cords

Vocal cord dysfunction, also known as VCD, has often been mistaken as Asthma, and at times can co-exist with Asthma. Due to the similarities between the two, it is likely the unnecessary prescribed medication will be given and changed often for the patient, until the right diagnosis of VCD is truly found by a doctor.

Unfortunately, 59 percent of patients are often misdiagnosed with Asthma, prior to knowing they have VCD. Vocal cord dysfunction is often found more in women than in men, and the common age of detection is in persons 20 to 40 years of age, although it has been detected in children as young as eight years of age.

VCD is a syndrome in which airway obstruction leads to respiratory distress, due to improper vocal cord motion. VCD is a condition where your vocal cords don’t function as normally as they should, and instead of the vocal cords opening when you breathe, they close, making it harder for you to get air into your lungs. Patients often describe excessive wheezing, choking sensations, cough and throat tightness associated with vocal cord dysfunction, as well they can experience shortness of breath, chest and throat tightness, chronic cough, frequent throat clearing, voice hoarseness and wheezing.

A detailed patient history is needed to differentiate between the diagnosis of asthma and VCD. VCD is noted with more difficulty in inhalation rather than exhalation, and with the increased sensation of throat tightness or choking. Pulmonary function testing and laryngoscopy usually helps in determining the correct diagnosis.

VCD is a treatable syndrome. A patient is usually referred to a speech-language pathologist to help and provide treatment for VCD. The pathologist will provide education and treatment based on each patients need, and will schedule follow-up appointments to reinforce the treatment given, as well as to support and encourage patients. Speech therapy is the usual form of improvement and treatment for vocal cord dysfunction.

To improve your VCD syndrome there are individualized exercises and techniques given as the patient’s treatment regimen. Some of the exercises taught in therapy treatment involve; increased awareness of breathing patterns, awareness of body posture and throat relaxation, VCD released breathing techniques, control VCD during exercise, suppression techniques for chronic cough, throat clearing techniques, and vocal hygiene. This exercise and therapy regimen is used to improve, prevent and eliminate vocal cord dysfunction. Patients also need to become aware of possible triggers of VCD which could be set off by; upper respiratory infections, exposure to airborne irritants, strong odors or fumes, cigarette or fire smoke, exercise, singing, laughing, environmental changes, stress, anxiety and tension.

As with any other diagnosis related to stress, anxiety and tension, counseling may be needed to help with lifestyle changes needed to improve your VCD. Counseling may also be needed for the extensive treatments, doctor visits and medications

prescribed prior to the proper diagnosis. Some patients fear the worst when symptoms do not go away after numerous prescribed medications and doctor visits. When patients are desperate to find out the problem associated with their symptoms and be correctly diagnosed, they can experience anxiety and stress, which is a known trigger of vocal cord dysfunction. Counseling might be an important part of treatment for VCD, to help with the anxiety and stress some patient’s experience.

The improvement for this condition is not difficult; it just takes time, care and patience. Following the guidelines, exercises, and advice of your physician will help with the prevention and possible elimination of vocal cord dysfunction. With lifestyle changes patients can lead a normal life, and enjoy the activities and exercises they desire. Patients must understand the triggers associated with vocal cord dysfunction and learn how to manage situations that might trigger symptoms. Learning to control stress, anxiety and tension is important in aspects of life, as these symptoms can lead to bigger health concerns. Understand the diagnosis given, listen to your physician and ask questions, be aware of your environment and triggers associated with vocal cord dysfunction. Acknowledge and commit to the treatment, therapy exercises and changes needed to improve vocal cord dysfunction and start living life normally again. In the end not only will you improve your VCD condition but you may even eventually eliminate it.

Living With Vocal Cord Dysfunction

The body, at times, gives us warning signs that something is askew. If we pay attention to them we can find out where the problem lies and work to improve the situation. Giving heed to symptoms lead to rectifying a health problem or at least making it tolerable. Yes many conditions can be well managed and therefore easier to live with.

One such issue that can arise is Vocal Cord Dysfunction. It often manifests itself by means of a tightening of the throat, shortness of breath, a wheezing or coughing. What is this condition? Well, let’s consider how the vocal cords should function and then we’ll discuss what can sometimes happen instead.

Where Are The Vocal Cords Located?

The vocal cords are a mucus membrane that covers muscle and cartiledge in the larynx, or voice box.

As we breathe in, they should open allowing air to flow through, and as we breathe out, they should close, thus restricting air flow. In an unhealthy vocal cord, however, a disorder occurs that causes them to close when they shouldn’t thus limiting the ability to take in air.

The cause of this malfunction is varied. The vocal cords begin to act out as they become inflamed. Sometimes this is due to overuse. Many people who use their voice as their living often experience this effect, such as singers. Another reason could be that an infectious organism is the culprit. Viruses that enter the body when the immune system is down, such as colds and flu, may also cause such inflammation. Even allergies that include post nasal drip may be an irritant to the vocal cords and have the same effect. So what can be done to deal with this situation if it becomes recurring? Since the voice is such a necessary and professional tool for most people and we depend on it so much for even the simplest of communication we must do all we can to alleviate this problem. For one who must live with it there are some simple steps to take to help cope a little better.

Diet

One thing to consider is our diet. It plays such a vital role in most of our health concerns. As we all know water is essential for life. It is also necessary for our vocal cords. It aids in thinning secretions that lubricate the cords thus facilitating ease of distribution and protecting them from dryness which can cause inflammation. So be sure to drink those 8 glasses a day as the doctor recommended.

Another great help is eating more healthy fat foods. Things like tuna, salmon, almonds, flaxseed. All of these have the Omega 3’s our body needs for self repair. And don’t overlook  those antioxidant-containing treats as well, such as blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and pecans, to name a few. Eating more of these and less dairy (which can act as an allergen) and alcohol will certainly help us in the fight toward vocal cord health.

Exercises

Not to be overlooked also is the need to exercise the vocal cords as well. Breathing exercises may help to relax them and thus aid in better air flow and less swelling. One such exercise is as follows: 1) Lie on the floor with knees bent up toward the ceiling. Place one hand on your abdomen to monitor how it moves during the exercise. 2) Inhale through the nose, keeping the chest and shoulders stationary. While taking air into the abdomen, watch the hand laying across it move upward as you inhale. 3) Exhale with your lips pursed as if you were going to whistle. Make a soft sigh and observe your hand lower as you breathe out. 4) Keep inhaling and exhaling for a few minutes. Alternate between quick breaths and slower ones as you go. Repeat this exercise 3-5 times a day. Soon you’ll notice the tightening in your throat may become less frequent and the cough may subside as the cords are trained to relax again.

Keeping in mind our diet as well as the need for plenty of water and exercise can put us well on the road to recovery from many situations. Or at least help us to cope with the ones we can’t remedy.