Everyone gets some form of laryngitis every now and then. Whether it is from illness or from voice use, the cause of the voice loss/hoarseness is pretty much always the same: swollen and irritated vocal cords. Here are some strategies to help.
Not a sexy answer, I know, but it’s still number one. Once the vocal cords are injured, they need space to recover. And every time you make sound, they slam into each other. So you can see that taking a break from voice use is important for healing.
If you sprain an ankle, you wouldn’t expect to go for a regular run the next day. You gently return it to function. And just like you can’t instantly un-sprain an ankle, you can’t un-swell vocal cords either. So take it easy as you heal.
Staying hydrated is a no-brainer here, especially if you are sick. Water, herbal tea, other beverages without caffeine or sugar are ideal. Drink enough that you “pee pale” all the time.
Inhale steam or nebulized saline
Nothing we drink touches the actual vocal cords, but everything we breathe does. Inhaling humidified air is extremely helpful for vocal recovery.
For detailed information about drinking fluids and inhaling steam or nebulized saline, check out my blog post, Why you need to keep your voice moist (That’s right, I said moist!) here.
Honey has been shown to reduce cough. Ginger and garlic have a myriad of health benefits including antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Anecdotally, licorice, hyssop, marshmallow, slippery elm, eucalyptus, and peppermint are touted as being beneficial to the voice.
A word of caution: It’s easy to assume that all natural remedies are harmless, but if something is powerful enough to help, it is also powerful enough to do damage. And some natural remedies can negatively impact the effects of prescription medications. So always consult with a medical professional before taking any new substances.
This article from St. Luke’s Hospital on complementary and alternative medicine treatments for laryngitis has some more great information.
Determine if dietary changes would be helpful
If acid reflux is a component to your hoarseness, dietary changes might be in order. My post Is acid reflux secretly messing with your voice? has more details about this situation.
Gentle voice use as you regain vocal health
While voice rest is important, total rest is rarely recommended for more than two or three days. If you can comfortably make sound, you can start with some gentle humming. If you are familiar with other voice exercises for forward placement, those would be good here.
When you do talk, you want to keep your voice as clear as possible without pushing. You probably won’t be loud, but you also don’t want to be breathy. Think of talking over your throat rather than through it.
Consult with a healthcare provider about medications that might be helpful
Depending on the cause and nature of the vocal cord injury, as well as your vocal demands, medications might be an option. Consult with a doctor if your hoarseness continues for more than 2 weeks.
Don’t beat yourself up!
This one is especially meaningful for performers, as there can be a stigma attached to vocal injury in singers. This is ridiculous! When an athlete gets injured we don’t chalk it up to poor technique, we understand this comes with the territory. Same is true for vocal athletes. So rest, recover, and keep doing your best!
If you could use assistance with any of these steps, reach out to schedule a session!