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I use speech recognition all day long for my work and most of my personal activities. Put aside taking frequent short breaks, making sure that I don't speak unnecessarily louder than I need to achieve a high speech recognition accuracy, and drink frequently, what else can I do to avoid voice strain?

Some more advice from https://web.archive.org/web/20170226165240/https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-voice:

Stay hydrated:

  • Limit your intake of drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, which can cause the body to lose water and make the vocal folds and larynx dry. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat.
  • Use a humidifier in your home. This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. Thirty percent humidity is recommended.
  • Avoid or limit use of medications that dry out the vocal folds, including some common cold and allergy medications. If you have voice problems, ask your doctor which medications would be safest for you to use.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet:

  • Don't smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoke irritates the vocal folds. Also, cancer of the vocal folds is seen most often in individuals who smoke.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods. Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus, causing heartburn or GERD.
  • Include plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E, and C. They also help keep the mucus membranes that line the throat healthy.
  • Wash your hands often to prevent getting a cold or the flu.
  • Get enough rest. Physical fatigue has a negative effect on voice.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina and muscle tone. This helps provide good posture and breathing, which are necessary for proper speaking.
  • If you have persistent heartburn or GERD, talk to your doctor about diet changes or medications that can help reduce flare-ups.
  • Avoid mouthwash or gargles that contain alcohol or irritating chemicals. If you still wish to use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, limit your use to oral rinsing. If gargling is necessary, use a salt water solution.
  • Avoid using mouthwash to treat persistent bad breath. Halitosis (bad breath) may be the result of a problem that mouthwash can't cure, such as low grade infections in the nose, sinuses, tonsils, gums, or lungs, as well as from gastric acid reflux from the stomach.
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    I think a better question is how could you avoid voice strain when you speak or use your voice in other ways for large portions of the day. This would make it apply to a wider audience as it is not that common to use voice recognition software all day but not uncommon to have a job where you use your voice all day. – Joe W Apr 9 '15 at 1:05
  • I agree with @JoeW. You could change your question to make it more generally applicable while still leaving the answers relevant. – Garrett Apr 12 '15 at 4:26
  • Some advice can be applied to other jobs that require to use voice all day, but some other advice are more specific to speech recognition: microphone sensitivity, choice of voice commands, posture, voice level, etc. So I would prefer to keep the question focus on speech recognition. – Franck Dernoncourt Apr 12 '15 at 4:53
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There are several good tips to help avoid voice strain.

  • Like you said, drink a lot of water (6-8 glasses a day); also, limit your intake of caffeinated drinks or alcoholic drinks, as they dry your throat

  • When you are talking, support your voice with deep breaths, like singers have to; speaking from your diaphragm puts less stress on your voice and also make you talk clearer

    • If you start to feel that you are getting voice strain, stop talking and just rest for a little while.

Taking Care of Your Voice

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  • +1 for taking care of your voice like a singer. Read about nodes and straining so you can learn to create relaxed clear tones. Singers not infrequently damage their voices by the way they sing. – DoctorWhom Sep 15 '17 at 7:23
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When working with speech recognition systems, you should take the following steps to minimise strain:

  • sit comfortably,
    • poor posture in sitting can lead to: swallowing, talking and breathing difficulties if your chest is slumped and unable to expand (source),
  • speak at a normal pitch/volume,
  • take breaks,
  • drink regularly.

Source: NHS: Voice Recognition Software - An Introduction

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  • Thanks. How comes sitting comfortably help avoid voice strain? – Franck Dernoncourt Apr 8 '15 at 17:12
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    @FranckDernoncourt I've added additional info. In general bad posture can lead to many health problems. Probably nothing, but it's worth to try. – kenorb Apr 8 '15 at 17:20
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One answer to this is give it some time. Your voice will get used to being used much more than it has in the past.

When I became a teaching assistant I was suddenly using my voice to address large groups for long periods of time when I had previously only been using it for occasional conversation. My voice was raw for a few days at the beginning of the semester, but my body was able to adapt (I should note that this experience was fairly general among the group of graduate students I served with, not just me).

Another possible approach might be ramp up. Don't go straight from not using your voice at all to using it all day. If it's possible to do part of your work by typing and the other with voice commands, alternate a little as your voice gets accustomed to heavier usage.

Remedies for raw throat are discussed here in an article about drill sergeants, but they are anecdotal: https://www.militarytimes.com/2013/04/08/di-secrets-theres-a-human-side-to-these-larger-than-life-marines/.

[EDIT: previous link died. I found the article again, searching for "the human side of these larger than life marines"--here are the suggestions from the article:

  • Same as sore throat remedy--honey, lemon, hot water
  • Hot tea followed by a cold drink
  • Pickle juice or lime juice mixed with salt ]
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    Thanks, interesting. I wasn't aware of the fact that the voice can get accustomed to heavier usage. – Franck Dernoncourt Mar 31 '15 at 22:41
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The best thing you can do is visit a speech pathologist (aka a voice coach) who can work with you to make sure you are not stressing your vocal folds and other parts of the speech pathway.

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