Your voice originates with two folds of muscle and cartilage covered with mucous membrane — the vocal cords. Controlled vibrations of these cords form the fundamental sounds your throat and mouth shape into words.
When the vocal cords become inflamed, most often by a viral infection, the sound and strength of your voice suffers, a condition called laryngitis. Swelling can also occur when you overuse your voice.
While laryngitis often responds well to home care, you may benefit from a visit to a throat condition specialist like Dr. Scott Bateman of Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat in Sheridan, Wyoming. Make an appointment if your voice doesn’t respond to your efforts.
Acute and chronic laryngitis
Chances are that your voice loss is temporary and will fully resolve in a few weeks. The most common reason for the problem is a viral infection like those that cause the common cold. Bacterial infections can also cause laryngitis, but not as often. Straining your voice is another common cause of acute laryngitis.
Chronic cases of voice loss may be due to other causes. Inhaling smoke or chemical fumes could cause localized swelling, as can exposure to some allergens. If you suffer from chronic sinusitis, postnasal drip could contribute to vocal cord issues.
Acid reflux can irritate the voice box with stomach acids. Singers, teachers, and others who overuse their voices on a regular basis can develop more permanent issues. Smoking and heavy alcohol use can each take their toll on your voice as well.
Tips for surviving laryngitis
Since viral infections are a common cause of laryngitis, there are few effective treatments for acute forms of the condition. Antibiotics won’t work on viruses, but if your infection is bacterial, you can benefit from them. Corticosteroids can reduce swelling, but Dr. Bateman generally reserves this treatment for urgent cases. Try these home care tips to get your voice back.
Rest, but don’t whisper
Your vocal cords need recovery time. Take a day or two and speak as little as possible. If you must speak, do it quietly, but don’t whisper. It may be easy when your voice is healthy, but it puts strain on the vocal cords when they’re swollen.
Drink plenty of fluids
Warm drinks soothe your throat. Try herbal teas, soups, and broths. Caffeine tends to dehydrate, so avoid black teas and coffee. Aim for about 60 ounces of fluid intake per day.
Humidify the air
Loading up a portable humidifier and staying within range provides plenty of moist air for easing your symptoms. Keep the humidifier going around the clock, even as you sleep.
Take a break from cigarettes and alcohol
Both these practices irritate and inflame the throat, the very condition from which you’re trying to recover.
You can ask Dr. Bateman for his opinion on voice therapy for your condition. Learning to use your vocal cords well can help if your job requires frequent voice-straining tasks. Book a consultation with Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat by phone or online. Make sure your voice is heard. Schedule an appointment now.