I Lost My Voice. Now What?
Have a little too much fun screaming during the Super Bowl? Then you might be left with a raspy voice…or you might not have one left at all. As you’re nursing your voice back to health, there are some helpful hints — and pesky myths — to consider. Here’s what to do when you lose your voice.
The Health Hints
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The vocal cords vibrate about 100 times each second for men, and about 200 times for women. That’s a lot of friction, especially when the vocal cords are damaged from overuse. Drinking plenty of water and non-caffeinated beverages can help with healing.
- Turn on the humidifier. Dry winter air? Radiator at full blast? Not the best for an irritated throat. A humidifier can help bring the air into balance, or you can simply turn on a hot shower and rest in the bathroom with the door closed for a few minutes. Your own steam room!
- Stay away from cigarettes. Drying out a sore, raspy throat more? Just another reason to say no. And avoid secondhand smoke, too.
- Don’t clear your throat. As tempting as it might be, resist the urge. Clearing your throat can elevate the irritation.
From our own Dr. Robert Pincus:
“If your hoarseness persists for more than 2 weeks you should have your vocal cords examined by an ear, nose and throat doctor to make sure that there is no problem that requires medical intervention.”
The Old Myths on What to Do When You Lose Your Voice.
- A hot toddy will do the trick. Hot toddies can seem enticing on a cold, snowy day, and they’ve even been touted for their supposedly “medicinal” qualities. But there’s no scientific proof that a toddy will turn the tide, and the dehydrating properties of alcohol can actually dry your throat more.
- Seek out some slippery elm. There’s no evidence that slippery elm — an ingredient added to some lozenges and teas to soothe the voice — will do damage to your vocal cords. But there’s no proof it’ll help, either. Don’t expect a quick fix from this ingredient.
- Whisper. It’ll feel better. Despite common belief, whispering causes the vocal cords to work harder and strain more than quiet talking does. A general rule: rest your voice when you can, and talk quietly (but don’t whisper) when you have to speak. Also talking on the phone should be kept to a minimum.
In any case, keep in mind that these tips are general rules on what to do when you lose your voice, not to replace the personalized advice of a doctor. If you need help getting your voice healthy, come by and see us for a consultation.