Nebulizers Can Help Hydrate Your Voice
Updated: Jan 9
There are many familiar ways to hydrate your voice: drinking more liquids, sleeping with a humidifier by your bed, and steam from a shower. When that's not enough, nebulizers with saline can help hydrate and soothe your voice.
Why do we want our voices to be hydrated?
Hydrated vocal folds don't require as much lung pressure to get started voicing, so your voice doesn't have to work as hard to make a sound. A well-hydrated voice is easier to use and less susceptible to injury. You also can reach a wider pitch range and have a more stable vocal quality with adequate hydration.
When your voice is well hydrated the vocal folds vibrate smoothly and easily with less force. This reduces vocal fatigue and improves sound quality.
How do I use a nebulizer to hydrate my voice?
My clients have tried many different nebulizers, some of which work better than others. I've summarized my findings below:
Please ask your healthcare provider before starting your own hydration protocol.
Not all nebulizers are created equal. Ultrasonic nebulizers with a mouthpiece (not just a mask), work best. Recently, my clients have reported good results with the VocalMist Portable Nebulizer. My clients have also reported liking the Omron Micro-Air, Clinical Guard, and various off-brands.
Nebulizers need cleaning. Clean the nebulizer regularly per the manufacturer's instructions. This most commonly involves using distilled water and white vinegar. Over time, without regular cleaning, nebulizers will grow bacteria that can lead to infection.
Use sterile saline. Saline is an all-natural salt water mixture that comes in different concentrations. For hydration, use sterile vials of isotonic saline (.7-.9%) or pure Simple Saline without additives (.7-.9%, sprayed into a clean medicine cup). It's important to open a new vial each time you use your nebulizer. Don't mix your own, as this can introduce bacteria and lead to infection.
Consistency matters. It isn't only about immediate relief. In the short term, pay attention to your own voice, and how often you need to nebulize to feel relief. On average, my clients who struggle with hydration or allergies settle into a routine where they nebulize twice daily. Nebulize regularly for long-term benefits.
Humidifiers also help. At night, or when you're in the same place for a while, you can use a humidifier to help hydrate your voice.
Liquids are important. Your voice really appreciates when you drink enough to hydrate your voice and support your overall health. There is no magic number, but your pee color and smell are good indicators of dehydration if your own sense of thirst is off. Pee that is dark yellow or has a strong odor can be a sign of dehydration. Many different liquids contain water. Flavorings are fine, and broth is great. Tea can be a diuretic, even decaf tea. Diuretics cause the kidneys to make more urine, which can be dehydrating. Coffee and alcohol can be dehydrating. Just pay attention to how the liquid you choose affects your voice. After all, you're becoming a professional voice user! No one can know your voice better than you.
Remember, healthy voices are more easily trained than unhealthy voices. They also sustain better, which allows for a more consistent sound quality. Take care of your voice, so it can work for you! If you're struggling to maintain your voice recipe or noticing vocal fatigue, reach out to set up a free phone consultation. I'd love to help you find a voice you love!
-Tallulah Breslin, MS, CCC/SLP (she/they)
Gender & Identity Affirming Voice Training @Harmonic Speech Therapy