Safe and…Sound: Tips for Voice Conservation During Mardi Gras

Author: Kevin Hemenger, UMC Speech Pathologist

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Most of us take our voice for granted—it’s there when we need it, and we don’t think much about it. But when your voice isn’t working right, it can cause serious problems, like one of these vocal disorders. It is important to take care of your vocal health just like you take care of other aspects of your health.

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You have two vocal cords located in your throat a little below the jawline (behind the Adam’s apple in men). The vocal cords are made of very delicate tissue that vibrates to produce voice. They stretch and contract at the same time to produce all of the different sounds and pitches that we use while talking and singing.

If the vocal cords are overused, they can become inflamed and swollen, so they don’t vibrate as well, causing the voice to sound hoarse. With repeated or frequent overuse, the vocal cords can be injured. Depending on the injury, this can require speech therapy or surgery.

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It’s easy to get carried away at parades, sporting events, concerts, and other festive occasions and overuse your voice. In these situations, you should avoid yelling above your typical conversational level.

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Tips for Saving Your Voice

  • Try clapping, waving, or whistling instead.
  • A “noisemaker” is also a good way to express your excitement.
  • If you know someone riding in a parade, make a sign to get their attention—it’s easier for the rider to spot you that way too!

It’s important to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids. 

Your vocal cords are very susceptible to dehydration. Be sure to have water or juice with you on the parade route and drink plenty of these throughout the day.

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If you do overuse your voice and find that you are hoarse the next day, rest your voice as much as possible and drink plenty of fluids. Typically, a one-time voice overuse will take care of itself in a couple of days.

If your voice is hoarse for more than a month with no improvement, then you should consider making an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) physician, who will take a look at your vocal cords and may refer you to Speech Therapy.

To make an appointment with an ENT at UMC, please call (504) 702-5700. Our ENT Clinic is located on the 3rd floor of the Ambulatory Care Building (ACB) in Zone C.

Stay safe and SOUND this Mardi Gras Season!

Beware and Be Aware of Carnival Cravings!

Author: Amanda Mitzel, RN, University Medical Center New Orleans

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Carnival season (and let’s be honest, living in New Orleans) can often make mindful eating a hard practice with which to stick. Between king cake, jambalaya and Popeye’s chicken, it seems everyone has food on the brain, but especially between King’s Day and Fat Tuesday.

Although the spirit of Mardi Gras has the power to get people thinking about eating, it does not always promote thinking about what they’re eating.

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If you’ve never heard of the term until now, mindful eating is the art of being aware of what you consume. It’s important because eating mindfully brings a steady awareness of our decision-making when it comes to food, encouraging healthy options and habits (while also making sure we aren’t unkind to ourselves if we have the occasional treat).

Mindful eating is not about restricting food. It’s not a diet.

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It’s about immersing ourselves in the experience, and it’s easy — not to mention, beneficial. Here’s how:

  • It increases your awareness of being full: Being mindful helps us notice when we’ve had enough, so we’re less likely to eat beyond the point of feeling satisfied.
  • It helps with identifying triggers: Our tendencies to eat for reasons other than nourishment are brought to light, such as stress eating or eating to comfort an emotion (sadness, anger, grief).
  • It aids in identifying habits: We can better see our habits, such as eating out of boredom or always having a certain snack during a particular activity. This awareness can help us challenge our need to always do something a certain way, especially if it’s unhealthy.
  • It promotes understanding the need for better coping mechanisms: As we uncover our triggers, we start to clearly see the need to deal with these emotions in a different way. Mindfulness helps give ourselves the space we need to process our feelings in a healthier way, such as breathing exercises, going for a walk, or talking with a friend.
  • It inspires you to make smarter food choices: This inspiration comes from a better awareness of how what you choose to fuel yourself affects how you feel. We start to notice the difference in how we feel when we eat a healthy meal versus post-junk food lethargy and anxiety.

So, now you may ask: How can I begin to integrate mindful eating into my everyday life?

Listed below are some tips to consider the next time you eat, whether it’s a healthy snack or that single slice of king cake you’re determined to savor mindfully:

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Cut out Distractions

Turn off your TV, your cell phone – anything that will distract you from the food in front of you. Focus fully on the meal if you are alone. If you are with loved ones, minimize distractions to the extent that you can. Immerse yourself in the conversation rather than checking your email or going over the day’s events in your mind.

Savor the Flavors

Enjoy your food! Use all five senses to heighten the experience.

Notice Reactions

Be aware of any emotions that come up. Do certain foods make you feel upset with yourself? Or do certain emotions cause you to reach for food as a nervous habit? Noticing these tendencies will help you highlight the need to work on managing your stress in other ways, decreasing that knee-jerk reaction to grab for food.

Don’t Judge

Try your best to keep that feeling of equanimity, no matter what emotions come up. Let those feelings come and go like clouds passing in the sky.

Pause

Make sure to slow down and give yourself enough time to notice when you’re feeling full. We often eat past the point of satiety simply because we’re distracted.

Be Kind to Yourself

Remember that this is not restricting yourself. It’s about paying attention and allowing this process to build the presence of mind to make choices that help us feel good about ourselves.

Making healthy choices becomes easier when we quiet down all the distractions around us and within our minds, and starting a mindful eating practice is as simple as giving your full attention to the plate in front of you.

Join me in trying to stay mindful this Carnival season, which will heighten the experience…and it might just keep us from eating the whole cake, too!

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Season’s Grievings

Author: Sonia Malhotra, MD, MS, FAAP, and Director of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care at University Medical Center New Orleans

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The Holiday Season is one full of celebration, joy and gathering for so many.  But for many individuals, especially those living with a serious illness, the Holiday Season can seem like more of a burden than a joy. Coordinating appointments, making sure there are enough supplies to last through days when pharmacies and stores are closed, and contacting healthcare providers are only some of the challenges those living with a serious illness have to face.

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Additionally, the Holidays often bring about stressors, anxiety and grief over the inability to travel and the loss of other abilities, the diagnosis of a serious illness, and often the loss of loved ones.

Palliative Medicine is the interdisciplinary care of patients with serious illness such as cancer, blood disorders, heart disease, neurologic disease, liver and kidney disease and advanced lung disease to name a few.

It provides this level of care in 4 areas:

  1. Pain and Symptom Management, including managing symptoms that affect the quality of life
  2. Communication about Healthcare Decisions, Plans of Care and Coordination of Care
  3. Emotional & Spiritual Support for Patients and their Caretakers
  4. Hospice, End-of-Life Decision Making and Support, and Bereavement Services

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November marked the celebration of National Hospice & Palliative Medicine month. 

However, each month in the life of our patients LIVING with serious illness brings awareness of the challenges and struggles we need to celebrate. Serious illness and Palliative Medicine are NOT about end-of-life care. Rather, Palliative Medicine and its care of the seriously ill focuses on finding ways to ensure that our patients and their caretakers are LIVING with the best quality of life they possibly can.2017-NationalHospiceMonth_Logo

So how can patients and their families survive this Holiday season with a Serious Illness?

  1. Establish Priorities: Choose the Holiday traditions and activities that have the most meaning to you. Create and prioritize activities based on your state of mind and energy level.
  2. Depend on Loved Ones to Fill In: This can be especially tough for those who like to do things independently. However, it is important to be realistic about what you will have energy to do. Ask for assistance, take assistance when it is given and be clear about your own limits.
  3. Plan Ahead: This is especially important if you have dietary restrictions while undergoing treatments. Talk to your healthcare team about rescheduling treatments that may leave you feeling under-energized during important family gatherings or traditions.
  4. Be Selective with Your Time: Do things and be with the people who energize you, not those who deplete you. Don’t feel the pressure to fulfill obligations, do the things that matter the most
  5. Acknowledge and Share Your Feelings: It is okay to feel sad, anxious and even angry. Give yourself the permission to have these feelings and share them with trusted loved ones and healthcare professionals. Use support groups and online communities as often or as little as you need.

The Holidays can be a stressful time for those living with a serious illness and those caring for a loved one with a serious illness. Keep in mind that nurturing yourself and allowing others to nurture you will help in the celebration and reflection of these times.

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