Is Your Voice MIA? Try These Tips to Treat Laryngitis Quickly
Colds and the flu are a primary cause for laryngitis. Get back up and communicating faster with advice on treating an inflamed voice box.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Laryngitis, which is prevalent during cold and flu season, is caused when the larynx—or voice box, which functions as a set of muscles that close when we swallow—becomes inflamed. To produce voice, folds of tissue within the larynx rub up against each other. And when inflammation gets into that lining, they don’t vibrate properly, explains Joshua B. Silverman, MD, PhD, chief, division of laryngology, department of otolaryngology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Usually the condition will resolve with “conservative measures,” he says, and hydration is the most important treatment for anyone with a bout of laryngitis. “When I say inflamed, I mean angry, red, and swollen. The voice box is very perceptible to dry mouth.” To drink more water, Dr. Silverman recommends carrying a water bottle around throughout the day and continually sipping from it.
Keep a humid environment
Dr. Silverman can’t stress enough how important humidifying is for those with laryngitis. “Two common laryngitis causes are upper respiratory infection or acute vocal strain,” he explains. “If a patient has a cold and is mouth breathing, the throat becomes dry, and that directly affects the larynx.” His advice: Place a cool or warm humidifier right next to bed, so the air goes right onto you. Equally important: Making sure the filter is new or clean! Here’s how to choose the best humidifier for your space.
Don’t overstrain your voice
When your voice is hoarse, Dr. Silverman explains that your natural instinct is to strain harder, which exacerbates the condition. “If you take swollen tissue and force it harder, it makes it worse, and it makes recovery longer,” he says, explaining that the tiny blood vessels inside vocal folds can pop when you strain. “I see this weekly,” he notes. “You can see collectives of blood inside the vocal chords.” Ew! Try one of these natural gargle recipes to help soothe a sore throat.
While an obvious irritant, the experts at WebMD point out that laryngitis patients should not smoke—and keep away from others who do. Remember, late nights out paired with drinking, yelling over crowds—and often smoking—are what could have caused your hoarse voice to begin with. A bout of laryngitis is, in fact, a very good time to try to stop smoking. Here’s exactly what happens to your body when you quit those cigarettes.
Finally, just rest your voice
Easier said than done, but Dr. Silverman underscores voice rest as the best way to get your voice back on track quickly. He defines complete voice rest as just that: Literally no speaking, and “walking around with a clipboard.” For relative voice rest, he recommends “nothing over a quiet voice. Don’t speak to anyone more than arm’s reach away. And no whispering – that can even be worse than shouting.” While you’re at it, try these cold remedies that really work.