Football fans often left speechless after games - tips to avoid serious issues
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) August 2012 – Cheering on your favorite team from the stands may seem harmless enough, but as fall sports get into full swing doctors are cautioning fans to take steps to avoid injuries - especially to their voices.
This time of year passionate fans often get carried away at the stadium, doing damage to their vocal cords that can last well into the work week and beyond.
“Every fall we tend to see a few more patients that come in for hoarseness that doesn’t go away by Monday morning,” said Arick Forrest, MD, Director of Voice and Swallowing Disorders Clinic at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Most people don’t realize as they are cheering for their team, that they can serious damage their vocal cords and, often times, that damage is permanent.”
Forrest says in many cases even surgery can’t repair badly damaged vocal cords, so the best strategy is to prevent injuries in the first place.
Here is his game plan for keeping your voice safe:
Before the game:
- Much like a singer or actor, warm up your voice before heading to the game by gradually increasing the volume and range of your voice to loosen the vocal cords. “The worst part is when you are really, really quiet and go right into a yelling, because your vocal cords aren’t ready for that,” said Dr. Forrest. “They’re muscles and they need to warm up. It’s just like if you are a runner you don’t go from sitting to spiriting.”
- If you tailgate or take part in pre-game parties, be aware that alcohol and smoke dry out your vocal cords and increase your risk of damage.
During the game:
- Pay close attention to your voice and if you notice yourself straining to talk or cheer, clap, don’t scream.
- Take advantage of timeouts during the game to rest your voice.
- Keep a bottle of water on hand during the game and take drinks often. “It’s really about hydration,” said Forrest, “keeping the vocal cords moist, drinking water during the game and not letting them dry out.”
After the game:
- If you have a raspy voice or strain to talk, rest your voice completely and don’t try to whisper to communicate. “Whispering is even worse than talking,” said Dr Forrest. “You cause more stress on your vocal cords by whispering than you do just by soft conversational speaking.”
- If you remain hoarse for more than 12 to 24 hours, you may want to see your doctor. “If it doesn’t get better a day later,” said Dr. Forrest, “that probably means you’ve cause some damage beyond just a little swelling, and should get it checked out.”
It’s also worth remembering that cold air constricts the vocal cords and dries them out more quickly, so as the season goes on, the risk of injuries your voice goes up.