The alert from the coordinator of the Voice Unit of the Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Ocidental (CHLO), which integrates the hospitals Egas Moniz, S. Francisco Xavier and Santa Cruz, comes days before World Voice Day (on April 16).

"The number of patients with dysphonia due to muscle tension is increasing since March 2020", says in a statement the specialist, who says that in the last few months, she has seen more and more people with this problem, which is characterized by a difficulty in speaking, hoarseness, lack of volume and projection, among others. The specialist acknowledges that, “although it is important to stop the spread of the virus, the use of masks has aggravated the pathologies associated with voice”.

"The number of patients diagnosed with dysphonia due to muscle tension has increased since March 2020, when health authorities recommended the use of masks as an essential measure to reduce the risk of contagion by Covid-19", she points out.

“The increased effort for vocal emission - caused by masks, anxiety and posture in front of the computer - leads to muscle tension in the cervical area, the shoulders and the vocal apparatus itself, often resulting in dysphonia due to muscle tension. This tension is so intense that, in certain cases, it causes serious vocal damage”, she stresses.

Given that the voice is the main working tool of artists, the Voice Unit of Hospital Egas Moniz and the GDA Foundation - Management of the Rights of Artists will launch a survey to assess the impact of Covid-19 on voice performances of actors and singers, an initiative that will mark World Voice Day 2021, this year under the motto “One world, many voices”.

GDA vice president Luís Sampaio says that “artists are being severely harassed by the effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the limitation of cultural activities and the cancellation of shows. But, despite this stop, they cannot neglect what for many is their main working tool: their voice”. "It is essential that artists have preventive health care that identifies and treats pathologies of the vocal apparatus, keeping it fit for the professional demands required post-pandemic", defends Luís Sampaio.

The GDA Foundation will send all collaborators an online survey to assess the levels of vocal discomfort of artists, whose data will be sent to the Voice Unit of Hospital Egas Moniz, which will assess the symptoms and, later, forward serious cases for queries or screenings. Clara Capucho's team will then use the results in preparation of a scientific study, on the effects of anti-covid-19 masks on the voice of artists in Portugal.

The Foundation and CHLO will also promote, on Wednesday and Thursday, free voice screenings aimed at the artistic community, but also at the population at Hospital Egas Moniz. Due to the pandemic, interested artists must register in advance by filling out a form on the GDA Foundation website, and the rest of the population should contact the CHLO Voice Unit.