July 31st, 2011 | by Anthony F. Jahn

Water is My Cure-All


Singing and ice-skating have something important in common –says Dr. Jahn

Dear Doctor Jahn,

Would you say that water is the closest thing we have to a “cure-all” when it comes to singing? I mean, I do a lot of singing in bars and clubs and I drink a LOT of water and I really haven’t had issues that other questioners have(hoarseness, sore-throats etc.)

-Gus

Dear Gus,

Since our bodies are over 90% water, it would make sense that staying wet will allow our bodies to function optimally.

I normally recommend eight – 8 oz glasses of water a day, but this should be increased if you are exercising and perspiring.

Water is the common currency of our cells, both inside and out, and it is the main vehicle for our circulation; it allows for the exchange of nutrients and the elimination of wastes.

Specifically,from the singer’s point of view, the vocal folds need to be both hydrated from the inside, and lubricated on their surface.

This allows them to move more easily, approximate more exactly, and, most important, it reduces trauma to the mucous membranes.

You know that when you ice skate, your blades actually slide on a very thin layer of water, which is ice that has been melted by the weight of your body pushing down on the skates.

Similarly, when singing, especially in the high range, the vocal folds make contact through a thin film of water.

If this layer of water is missing or inadequate, due to lack of hydration, the mucous membranes rub against each other, causing inflammation, swelling and possible injury.

The other good thing about drinking so much water during your gigs is that you are drinking less coffee and alcohol!

Both of these drinks dehydrate your body, and increase the likelihood of trauma to the dried mucous membrane surface.

So keep drinking water, and sing on!

-Anthony F. Jahn, MD

Dr. Jahn welcomes your questions. You can send these to editor@voicecouncil.com

This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.

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  • Cowboy

     find that drinking room temp works best as ice cold tend to tighten. I even sometimes crink hot water a sometimes add lemon juice

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  • Kathy

    When we swallow water, it doesn’t actually come in contact with our vocal folds, right? The only thing that comes into contact with your vocal folds is the air you breathe.  Drinking water gives ‘internal’ hydration but not lubrication on the surface of the folds.  Or does it?  When you drink, your whole mouth gets moistened.  So the air you breathe may get moistened as it passes through your mouth, and therefore directly lubricate your vocal folds a little?  Am I right or is inhaling steam the only way to really directly lubricate the vocal folds?
    Kathy 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/martindebourge Martin DeBourge

     7 months before some replied to you Kathy!?
    ;-)
    You are correct in all that you say. However, recently there was an article on this website that actually explains the immediate voice benefits of drinking water.
    Here is the link:

    http://voicecouncil.com/why-water-feels-good/

    Otherwise, I tell all my vocal students: “The water you drink today is the hydration you’ll need tomorrow. So plan ahead!”

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