How To: Get your voice back

By Katy Nielsen

A sore throat is painful and distracting, but losing your voice can completely ruin your day. The reason people lose their voice can be the result of a cold, allergies, excessive smoking or yelling at a sporting event, to name a few. William Gatti, otolaryngologist and clinical professor at Loyola University Medical Center, has some suggestions for how to get your voice back.

1. Drink fluids. Thyme or chamomile teas tend to bring some relief to a hoarse voice. Don’t take in caffeine or anything that may cause dehydration. “Warm fluids and honey are presumed to be medicinal,” Gatti said. “If it relieves the symptoms, I have no objection to it.”

2. Give your vocal chords a rest. Overworking your vocal chords will make matters worse. Abuse of this kind can very well be the reason you lost your voice. Try not to verbally communicate with anyone unless absolutely necessary until you can speak again without feeling like you’re straining your voice.

3. Put on a humidifier at night. Moisture in the air will help keep your vocal cords hydrated. “In the winter, the air is dry. So keeping a humidifier on will help,” Gatti said.

4. Appropriate medication. “The treatment is based on the history of a patient and our findings when they come into the office,” Gatti said. “Either antibiotics or allergy medication can help. Sometimes allergens will swell the vocal chords.”

5. Avoid smoking cigarettes and wear a mask if necessary. Avoid being around smoke and other irritants if at all possible. “If there’s any irritant—smoking is one of them—in the working environment, especially for construction workers, you should wear a mask,” Gatti said.