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How To Get Your Voice Back Quickly After Losing It

Written by: Katarina Hornakova, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

It happens to everyone. Our voice can get hoarse or we can lose it completely due to a regular cold or flu. From recent history, we also know that COVID can take a toll on our voices. While it is common to experience voice problems during viral or bacterial illnesses, it does not mean we have to helplessly wait for them to pass and hope for the best.


There are no drugs or exercises to quickly cure hoarseness or loss of voice. But your voice has four basic needs.

In situations like these, make sure you give your voice:


1. Time


The first few days are the worst, your voice is hoarse, it’s almost impossible to talk, your throat hurts, and you may even have a hard time swallowing. But these symptoms should subside within a few days. However, your voice may not sound “normal” for another week or two because it takes longer for the vocal folds to get back into their original shape.


In the initial stages, you may need to use some medication, such as painkillers, but many of these drugs for common colds have adverse effects on voice, such as local anesthetics like numbing throat sprays, and medicated cough syrups, or lozenges. When your throat is numb, you can easily overuse your voice and cause further vocal injury. Decongestants have a drying effect on your body, including the vocal folds. If you are taking them to help with a runny nose, increase your water intake to make up for this side effect. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist to choose the best products for your body AND voice.


2. Rest


Rest is important not just for your voice but for your body too. Rest as much as possible. “Sleep is the best medicine” and it definitely helps you get your voice back as soon as possible. Voice rest is what your voice needs during sickness. If you continue using your voice, you risk overusing it and causing vocal injury or strain.


Decrease voice use and demands on your voice during the initial stages. Let other people talk during this time. Choose activities that do not require your voice, like reading a book or watching a movie. You don’t need to be completely quiet: talk when you need to but avoid whispering. Instead, use a soft speaking voice.


3. Water


Hydration is absolutely essential for your voice when you are NOT sick. Therefore during sickness, double down on hydration. Drink plenty of fluids. It may be painful to swallow initially and therefore, you may avoid drinking. But keep those vocal folds hydrated because dry vocal folds are more susceptible to vocal injuries. Hydration also helps to thin out the mucus that your body produces.


There are other methods of hydrating your voice, including humidifying your home and steaming your voice. You can steam your voice with a personal steamer, nebulizer, or the old-fashioned way: pour boiling water into a bowl, put a towel over your head and inhale the warm steam. External hydration is the most direct way of hydrating your vocal folds and when they are swollen, this is a wonderful method to provide them with their basic needs.


4. Gentle exercises


Once the worst is over and your voice is coming back, you can start doing gentle vocal exercises. Gentle humming, straw exercises, or lip trills are just a few examples of exercises that are gentle enough for the recovering voice and help to bring it back.


When sick, you often find yourself coughing and clearing your throat due to increased production of mucus. Minimize these behaviors as much as possible because they prolong the vocal recovery period. These behaviors bring the vocal folds together in a very forceful way and compromise their integrity. It’s easier said than done. If you need to cough, you need to cough. But you can use saline sprays or saline nasal irrigation systems or salt water for gargling to reduce the amount of mucus from your nose and throat, which will lessen the need for coughing and throat clearing.


If the acute illness is no longer present but your voice is still not back for 2 weeks or more, talk to your doctor and ask for a referral to a laryngologist to have your voice evaluated so that you avoid long-lasting vocal issues.


Follow Katarina on her Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and visit her website for more info.


 

Katarina Hornakova, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Katarina Hornakova is a licensed speech-language pathologist, vocal health coach, and educator with 20+ years of experience working with diverse groups of people from all corners of the world, including speakers, singers, musicians, teachers, presenters, voice-over actors, entrepreneurs, yoga instructors, health educators, and others. She has published several books and articles on speech, language, and voice disorders. Katarina is most passionate about helping people who experience vocal tension, strain, or even pain when speaking, find more vocal ease and confidence to share their message with the people around them. Her mission is to give voice to those who have lost it. She continues to develop her deep fascination with the human voice through the Estill Voice System model, which formed her belief that “every voice is beautiful”. Katarina has helped hundreds of people discover their true vocal potential. She is a curious life-long learner herself who loves to meet new people, cook, and travel.

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