Are school teachers vulnerable to voice disorders? Recent studies at the Mysore-based All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), a premier institute in the field of speech and hearing, have revealed that 30 to 40 percent of people coming to the institute with complaints of voice problems are teachers.

As they tend to overuse their voice in classrooms, handling about 50 to 70 children for 6-8 hours daily, the number of teachers prone to voice disorders is on the rise.

“Lack of awareness on voice care is one of the prime reasons for voice problems among teachers. They suffer from different degrees of problems due to excessive use of voice. If left unattended, these can become chronic,” says Y.V. Geetha, chairperson, Professional Voice Care Centre (PVC), AIISH, Mysore.

She told The Hindu that the centre attends to 50 to 60 cases of voice disorders in three months. Ms. Geetha, a professor in speech sciences, the centre holds orientations for teachers once a month to sensitise them on the best ways of taking care of their voice. Early identification and precautionary measures will help prevent complications, she suggested.

Many teachers have recovered their voice quality after undergoing therapy at the centre. However, problems can come back if precautions were not taken, as one’s voice needs to be taken care of on a regular basis, especially by professional voice users, Ms. Geetha advised.

Professional voice users such as teachers, singers and lawyers, are more prone to voice problems due to voice abuse or misuse.

Professional voice users are those who use their voice for profession on a day-to-day basis. Singers, lawyers, cheerleaders, hawkers/vendors are other professional voice users.

Excessive talking, throat clearing, coughing, inhaling irritants, smoking or yelling result in injury to vocal folds. Dust allergy, improper food habits, respiratory problems, paralysis or paresis of vocal cords, cancerous growth etc., are the other causes of voice problems, she said.

April 16 is observed as World Voice Day.