Karaoke hazards

Inside a karaoke booth with a few classmates, a brilliant idea popped up, a wicked research topic, which I then suggested to them.

"Detection of Mycoplasma, Legionella, and Chlamydophilia strains causing community-acquired pneumonia from aerosol particles on microphones of selected karaoke booths in the City of Manila"

No one might have thought that karaoke is a health hazard. This health concern will perhaps make you think otherwise.

image credits: en.wikipedia.org
Look at how close Nina keeps her mic to her lips. Aside from inhaling aerosol particles, other possible pathogens include Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes Simplex Virus-1, and Coxsackie virus. The list of infectious agents goes on.

Well, you might think it's nonsense. NCBI PubMed, however, has actually indexed a peer-reviewed research about karaoke. In 2003, Yiu & Chan of the University of Hong Kong described the vocal effects of singing for 4-5 hours continuously inside a karaoke booth, and the interventions necessary to keep amateur throats in best shape.

Karaoke singing is a very popular entertainment among young people in Asia. It is a leisure singing activity with the singer's voice amplified with special acoustic effects in the backdrop of music. Music video and song captions are shown on television screen to remind the singers during singing. It is not uncommon to find participants singing continuously for four to five hours each time. As most of the karaoke singers have no formal training in singing, these amateur singers are more vulnerable to developing voice problems under these intensive singing activities.

This study reports the performance of 20 young amateur singers (10 males and 10 females, aged between 20-25 years) on a series of phonatory function tasks carried out during continuous karaoke singing. Half of the singers were given water to drink and short duration of vocal rests at regular intervals during singing and the other half sang continuously without taking any water or rest.

The subjects who were given hydration and vocal rests sang significantly longer than those who did not take any water or rest. The voice quality, as measured by perceptual and acoustic measures, and vocal function, as measured by phonetogram, did not show any significant changes during singing in the subjects who were given water and rest during the singing. However, subjects who sang continuously without drinking water and taking rests showed significant changes in the jitter measure and the highest pitch they could produce during singing.

These results suggest that hydration and vocal rests are useful strategies to preserve voice function and quality during karaoke singing. This information is useful educational information for karaoke singers.

image credits: NCBI PubMed

Basically it says that a glass of water or two wouldn't hurt. Cheers to all karaoke lovers in the world! Kanpai!

Reference: Yiu, EM, & Chan, RM. (2003). Effect of hydration and vocal rest on the vocal fatigue in amateur karaoke singers. Journal of Voice, 17(2), 216-27 (link here).