It is seriously annoying when you lose your voice when you’re sick.And how much more so when you can’t even whine about it. They say that a good chunk of our communication happens non-verbally, but unfortunately that we still need to talk. Laryngitis happens when your voice box is irritated or swollen (what we commonly call a voice box is really the larynx). Your voice is directly affected by this condition and could make you sound like a crypt keeper or worse—you could lose the power to speak. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and all sorts of other problems if your laryngitis is the result of another illness. Common causes include infection, allergies, bronchitis, overuse or straining your voice, and other behaviors (like smoking). For most cases of minor laryngitis, it’ll take care of itself in time. But there are things you can do to help your body along. For serious, chronic cases, there are options you can discuss with your doctor.
- Hoarse voice
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
Best Remedies for Laryngitis
A healthy lifestyle will minimize chances of getting laryngitis and help healing. If you avoid risky behavior and live healthy, the odds of getting laryngitis in the first place will decrease. Smoking is bad for you in many ways and the way it affects your vocal chords is one of the more mild side effects. Drinking too much alcohol can have similar effects. You don’ have to lock yourself up in a giant bubble, but you should avoid getting sick germs on you. This is especially true during cold/flu season—so wash your hands frequently.
Treat the underlying cause
If your laryngitis came about with another sickness, take care of that first. Treating the underlying cause is pretty much always going to be the better deal in the long run. This is particularly true for chronic laryngitis, which might be caused by something more serious, like cancer, acid reflux, or pneumonia. Definitely head to a doctor for this! Even if you’ve just got a nasty sinus infection stealing your voice, treating the whole infection will heal your throat along with your body. You’ll also avoid having the laryngitis reappear if the underlying sickness is taken care of. And that’s just good common sense.
Moisten your throat
Moistening your throat will soothe it. If you’ve lost your voice, chances are that your throat is feeling dry and scratchy. Throwing some moisture at it will tackle that particular symptom. It won’t cure you, but it’ll make your illness more bearable. Get a humidifier in your room (like this humidifier at Amazon, which has a lot of nifty options), take a steamy bath or shower, boil up some water and breathe in the steam. If you use the boiled water method, let it cool a bit first to avoid burning yourself on the steam. You can also suck on cough drops or chew gum to create more saliva.
Get rest and hydration
As with most minor illnesses, rest and hydration are your best friends. The majority of the time laryngitis is not something you need to stress out about and run to the ER for. It’s one of those things you just have to wait out. Resting and drinking your water, orange juice, tea, or what have you, will give your body a leg-up on healing. Rest your voice as well and remember that whispering is actually harder for your vocal chords than regular talking. Maybe get a little whiteboard or notebook to communicate. You’re already sick, so who cares if you look like a dork?
Seek medical attention
Some instances will need medical attention. If it is absolutely necessary that you have your voice back (you’re a singer, public speaker, etc.), a doctor can treat you with corticosteroids to relax your vocal chords. If you have a new baby who has a gruff little voice, bring the peanut in. If someone is having trouble breathing or swallowing, bring them in. If your hoarseness isn’t going away (two weeks for adults, one for kids), head on in. It’s pretty rare that serious infection is caused by laryngitis, but it’s possible. Don’t dismiss symptoms.
The taste isn’t the best, but it’ll promote healing a sore throat. Mix a half teaspoon of salt with one cup warm water and gargle as needed throughout the day. More salt does not make it more effective. It’ll just irritate things more. Stick to this ratio.
I love this stuff anyway, but lemon is in many folk remedies for sore throats. Pro-tip: Add honey. It’s delicious and, at least for me, it coats your throat a little better than drinking it plain. The warmth from the tea will also feel nice. You don’t need anything fancy here, we’d recommend Lemon Zinger Celestial Seasonings, sold at Amazon.
Homemade Mini-Upper-Respiratory Sauna
Okay, that’s my name for it. I don’t know if it has a real name. Boil up some water, remove it from the stove, lean over the pot with a towel covering your head and the water, breathe steam, feel relief. Just be careful not to burn yourself.
Treatment and Patience
The good news about laryngitis is that it should just go away on its own (if it’s not a serious case). The bad news about laryngitis is that you pretty much have to suck it up and wait until it does go away. The above tips are not going to cure you instantly. They will, hopefully, make your illness less painful while you’re stuck with it and also promote healing. So be patient. In the event that your lost voice is an indicator of a more serious condition, at least now you can get down to the bottom of it and start making it better. Some people who suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) may not even realize they have it. This is not a condition that should be left untreated. Also, obviously, if you have a form of cancer, it’s better to find it early. But laryngitis caused by stuff like that is pretty rare. Once you’ve ruled out anything serious, set up on the couch with some ice cream and the latest season of your guilty pleasure. Just keep the remote handy so you can flip it to ESPN when your girlfriend walks in on you keeping up with the Kardashians.