Whether you’re an actor, singer, or voiceover artist, your voice is the most crucial part of your delivery. If your audience can’t hear or understand your words, then you have failed. Research suggests that people tend to attribute positive characteristics to you when you have an attractive voice .
People with attractive voices are believed to be warm, honest, and more likable, while those with confident voices are seen as more dominant . As such, losing your voice or having a hoarse voice can be quite challenging, especially when you need it for work.
So, what causes loss of voice, and how can you prevent it from happening to you? This lost voice remedy guide will help you find something that actually works to treat voice issues, instead of relying on century-old home remedies that rarely work.
What causes loss of voice in the first place?
Studies show that about 30% of people in the world develop some type of voice disorder at least once in their lifetime . These voice problems might develop because of different reasons, including viral infections, misuse or overuse of your voice, damage to your vocal folds, and non-cancerous growth.
People like singers, teachers, actors, lawyers, and performers stand a huge risk of getting voice difficulties as they often talk a lot and loudly for a living . However, what most people call “losing their voice” is actually a result of an inflamed voice box (laryngitis). But what is laryngitis and which is the ideal lost voice remedy to help you overcome it and communicate effectively? Let’s find out.
Laryngitis & Inflammation of the voice box
Laryngitis is a condition that occurs when your vocal cords (larynx) or voice box becomes swollen or irritated . This inflammation often occurs because of an acute viral infection, typically a mild, self-limiting condition that lasts for 1-2 weeks.
Swelling of your vocal cords (larynx) muffles your sound and makes it hoarse. As a result, all that will come out when you try to speak is a squeak or whisper. Fortunately, this condition is short-lived with the proper treatment. However, the condition may last longer and become chronic in some people.
Symptoms of Laryngitis
Laryngitis is often associated with other illnesses like the flu, cold, and bronchitis. As such, laryngitis symptoms in adults and children are normally similar. Laryngitis symptoms include:
- A low-grade fever
- Hoarseness in your voice
- Trouble speaking
- Swollen glands
- A dry cough
- A tickling sensation in your throat
Do some lose their voice more easily than others?
Anybody can lose his or her voice for different reasons, but some people tend to lose their voice more easily than others. This is especially true for people who regularly overuse their voices, including actors, singers, public speakers, and professional voice users like lawyers, teachers, and salespeople.
The inflammation of your vocal cords can also result from a virus infection or excessive use. Research also shows that you’re more prone to lose your voice if you have:
- Sinonasal infections or inflammation, which may cause a post-nasal drip
- Inhaled irritants like chemicals, high levels of mold, dust, and fumes or aerosols
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux disease
So, do you need to be concerned if you lose your voice regularly?
Frequent voice loss is a sign of an underlying abnormality in your vocal cords . That means your main concern should be determining what the underlying issue is if you’re frequently losing your voice. However, if you don’t get back your normal voice within a few weeks, it’s time for you to consult an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) voice specialist to know whether it’s a sign of a more serious medical problem.
Prevention: How to prevent Voice Loss
If your source of income depends on your voice, it’s important to maintain your vocal health to avoid hoarseness or losing it. Here are several ways that you can protect your vocal cords to avoid losing your voice.
1. Stay hydrated
Make sure you remain hydrated by drinking about 2 liters of water daily since your vocal cords must stay moisturized to function effectively or heal when they’re in bad shape. If you like caffeinated drinks or alcohol, try and balance them out by taking in plenty of water. The reason for this is that caffeinated drinks like black tea and coffee or alcoholic drinks can dry up your larynx and worsen any existing inflammation.
A well-hydrated body produces more mucus, which is a great lubricant for your vocal cords . As such, ensure that you drink an additional 250ML of water if you start your mornings with coffee or tea to compensate for the caffeine’s dehydrating effects.
2. Use a humidifier in your office or home
Set up a small humidifier in your living room, bedroom, or office, or wherever you spend most of your time at home. The moist air in the atmosphere will help to lubricate and soothe your vocal cords. You can also boil some water and breathe the steam or take a hot shower.
If you frequently have throat issues and live in a dry area, you might need a hygrometer to measure your home’s humidity (we recommend a 50% humidity level). Additionally, you should open your windows and doors when it’s nice outside since air conditioning systems dry out indoor air and that doesn’t help your vocal cords.
3. Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle
To maintain a healthy diet, eat plenty of fruits, whole grains, and vegetables. These foods are rich in vitamins A, C, and E, and they also keep the mucus membranes lining your throat healthy. It’s also important to avoid eating spicy foods as they can make stomach acid move up your esophagus or throat, causing GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) or heartburn .
If you regularly use your voice professionally, avoid smoking and exposing yourself to second-hand smoke. Research shows that smoke irritates your vocal cords and can also cause cancer as is often seen in people who smoke .
Besides eating a balanced diet and avoiding smoke, there are several other lifestyle changes you can make that will help with avoiding losing your voice. These lifestyle change suggestions are:
- Exercise regularly. Exercising increases your stamina and muscle tone, helping you maintain good posture and breathing patterns which are crucial for proper speaking.
- Get enough rest as physical fatigue negatively affects your voice .
- If you have GERD or persistent heartburn, consult your doctor about medication and diet changes that can minimize the flare-ups.
- Avoid mouthwash solutions that contain alcohol and other irritating chemicals.
- Avoid regularly using gargles or mouthwash to handle persistent bad breath. Bad Breath (halitosis) might result from a problem that simple mouthwash can’t handle, including infections on your nose, tonsils, sinuses, lungs, or gums.
4. Use your voice wisely
Try not to over-stress your vocal cords. Avoid singing or speaking when your voice is tired or hoarse. You’ll also need to rest your voice when you have a cold or flu. Illnesses put extra pressure on your voice, making it quiver and sound strained. You might also feel pain in your throat when you’re speaking.
Here are a few more tips to help you use your voice wisely:
- Avoid pushing your vocal range to the extremes like whispering or screaming: Talking too softly or too loudly can induce more stress on your vocal cords.
- Avoid cradling your phone when on calls: Cradling your phone between your shoulder and head for extended periods can create muscle tension on your neck, negatively impacting your voice.
- Avoid speaking in noisy environments: Trying to talk in noisy places will make you strain your voice in your attempt to be heard.
- Practice good breathing methods when talking or singing: Use deep breaths from your chest to support your voice and don’t depend on your throat alone. Speakers and singers are often taught simple breath control exercises, which help them perform at their best without straining their voices.
- Amplify: Consider amplifying your voice with a microphone when presenting in static environments like classrooms, exercise rooms, and exhibit areas.
- Find Coaching: Consider hiring an experienced speech-language pathologist to teach you how you can use your voice healthily.
- Maintain good hygiene: Wash your hand properly and often, especially when you have flu or have been around a sick person.
- Avoid dairy products: While dairy products are good for your bones, they coat your vocal cords, making your sound muffled and feel like you need to clear your throat all the time.
Cure: How to cure or remedy Voice Loss
While laryngitis takes 1-2 weeks to heal, that might sound like a lifetime if your voice is your source of income. If you have a demanding voice-over project, you need to overcome your hoarse voice to get things running again. As such, you’ll need a lost voice remedy that can quickly cure your ailment and give you enough time to meet your deadlines. Here are a few solutions that voice experts recommend:
1. Rest your voice
Resting your voice is an important factor in healing your laryngitis (lost voice). Vocal cord inflammation and irritation need time to heal, so you should avoid using your voice to give yourself time to recover. Try and minimize your talks for 2-3 days and when you must talk, keep your voice down but don’t whisper.
2. Drink warm liquids
Drinking plenty of warm liquids helps you heal from laryngitis quickly. Laryngitis often comes from a viral infection, so resting your voice and taking plenty of liquids will help you to heal quickly. Consider taking fluids like meat broth, tea, or soup, as they help thin out mucus and keep your airways moisturized.
Try and drink about 60 ounces of these liquids, but avoid caffeinated drinks like black tea and coffee as they dehydrate your throat. If you can’t go through your morning without coffee, ensure you replenish your fluids with herbal tea or water.
3. Gargle salt water
Gargling warm salt water might help you fight laryngitis by keeping your throat moisturized. Salty water will also kill any bacteria irritating your larynx. Just warm a glass of water, add a teaspoon of salt, and try gargling twice or thrice daily.
4. Take hot showers
While taking hot showers might not sound like an effective lost voice remedy, the steam formed helps to moisten the vocal cords and soothe a sore throat. Inhaling the warm steam from the hot shower might help you reduce hoarseness in your voice and clear sticky secretions from your vocal cords.
5. Don’t clear your throat
Clearing your throat is part of your instincts when there is mucus in your throat. Unfortunately, trying to clear your throat will typically do you more harm than good. For starters, trying to clear your throat creates an abnormal vibration that may irritate your vocal cords.
Attempting to clear your throat will also influence mucus production in your body. That’s a never-ending process since you’ll feel like clearing your throat more. For that reason, try to fight your instinct when you feel like clearing your throat.
6. Suck on glycerin-based lozenges
If you need some relief from that dry, scratchy cough that comes with irritated vocal cords, glycerin-based lozenges can help. Check the package to ensure that glycerin is among the top ingredients used. These lozenges are better than menthol-based lozenges as glycerol acts as a lubricant on your throat, reducing the friction between your pharynx and tongue . That soothes your cough and helps you regain your voice.
Glycerin can also influence the protein structure in your pharynx by reducing the volume of proteins, which creates a smooth surface and gives a lubricant effect . However, it’s best to avoid having more than 6 lozenges in a day or contrary to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Additionally, look for sugar-free options and avoid using eucalyptus or menthol-based lozenges as they may irritate your throat even more .
7. Avoid cough suppressants or decongestants
Taking cold medicine as a lost voice remedy might seem like a great idea, but taking cough suppressants for upper respiratory infections or sinusitis can actually make your throat dry . If you’re suffering from a headache, take one or two tablets of an OTC (over the counter) painkiller like ibuprofen or acetaminophen every 6 hours. Ibuprofen is a great solution because of its anti-inflammatory properties, which can heal any inflamed tissues around your vocal cords. However, avoid taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you’re suffering from liver problems.
Visit the pharmacy for some over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Such medications can help you ease discomfort and reduce the inflammation of your vocal cords. However, if your laryngitis symptoms are very painful and don’t seem to be going away despite taking over-the-counter medications for over 2 weeks, it’s time to see a doctor. Your doctor will do a physical exam and recommend proper treatment.
What is the fastest lost voice remedy?
If your livelihood depends on your voice, visiting a doctor is the fastest lost voice remedy out there. While laryngitis doesn’t always need medical treatment, you might need to visit a physician to treat the problem within a few days. In some cases, taking over-the-counter antibiotics might not work as laryngitis is often caused by viral infections.
When you visit your doctor, be prepared to give your medical history and the amount of time you have been having a hoarse voice. Your doctor will examine your throat and give you a swab using a cotton ball to test for bacterial infections like tonsillitis, strep, meningitis, or whooping cough.
If your physician diagnoses you with laryngitis, he/she can prescribe steroids or antibiotics to clear your throat within 5-7 days. Your doctor can also refer you to an ENT doctor (or an otolaryngologist) to deal with complex problems affecting your ears, nose, or throat.
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