Whether it’s from late nights, cheering at a sports game or even the foods we eat, a hoarse voice can be a pesky problem. So how can you get your vocal cords back in top shape…and soon?
The voice can get hoarse, in a condition sometimes called phonotrauma, when the delicate vocal cords strain due to overuse, yelling or loud talking. At a certain point, the brain tries to pull in help from the muscles we use to swallow, and those muscles aren’t ideal for talking. The result: a tight, raspy voice.
If you’re sounding raspy, some of these tips might help you recover:
- Stay hydrated. The vocal cords need adequate water to function.
- Try tea. Caffeine-free varieties with honey can be especially soothing.
- Avoid menthol. If you try cough drops or throat lozenges, go for menthol-free versions. That “cool” sensation is a result of alcohol evaporating, which can lead to dryness.
- Choose OTC meds wisely. A plain expectorant, such as Mucinex, can come in handy for some patients. (Check with your doc if you’re not sure which brands or ingredients to look for.)
Vocal hoarseness generally clears up in two to four weeks, but if you’d like to help reduce the chance of future hassles, then you can watch your hydration levels, get lots of sleep and avoid yelling whenever possible.
In addition, stay aware of these non-vocal causes that can be linked with hoarseness, in case any might be a secret culprit:
- Excess alcohol and caffeine
- Late nights and early mornings
- Acid reflux
- Dry air
From our own Dr. Robert Pincus:
“Among the most common causes of hoarseness are viral infection, vocal abuse and acid reflux–where acid comes up as high as the throat irritating the voice box. However, persistent hoarseness can be a sign of a more serious problem, including cancer. It is recommended that anyone with a vocal change lasting more than one month should have his or her vocal cords examined. This is a common, simple, office procedure, done with a lighted tube, in your ENT doctor’s office.”
If you’re concerned about your hoarseness — or the symptoms keep coming up time and again — then be sure to give us a call. The voice is a delicate system that’s unique to each person, and we’d be happy to help you keep yours healthy.