What To Do When You’re Hoarse and Can’t Speak
We use our voice nearly every day to communicate through words and sounds our thoughts, opinions and feelings, and most of us have experienced some problems with our voice brought on most commonly through illness such as laryngitis or vocal strain when we’ve used our voices too much and often improperly through shouting and screaming. One of the most common vocal ailments is hoarseness.
No matter how much care you give to your voice, we all get hoarse from time to time. From experiencing a raspy, shallow bellow to complete vocal loss, it can happen to everyone. Hoarseness is often an affliction brought on by irritation or strain of the vocal cords. When we speak, hum, sing, scream, etc. the vocal cords vibrate, which produces sound. If these cords are irritated or strained, an abnormal change often occurs in the sound, resulting in hoarseness. These changes can include pitch, dynamics and volume, or it may produce a deeper sound, raspy sound, a weak and airy sound or a harsh and guttural sound.
The most effective steps one can take to prevent hoarseness is to not scream, yell or holler. Avoid whispering, clearing your throat and coughing whenever possible as these activities cause a harsh force of air to flow through the vocal cords. Stay hydrated, especially in dry climates. Protect your throat from sudden or extreme fluctuations in temperature and climate, such as avoiding direct currents from air-conditioning and fans and making sure your neck stays warm during cold weather. Also, there are medical conditions that can lead to hoarseness such as allergies, acid reflux and even throat cancer.
If you happen to be hoarse and the condition has lasted for more than a week or two or is accompanied by other symptoms, the first recommendation is to go see a physician immediately, particularly if you experience any of the following: 1) Difficulty breathing or swallowing; 2) Drooling accompanied by hoarseness, particularly among elderly and small children; 3) Condition lasts more than 1 week for elderly or small child or 2-3 weeks in an otherwise healthy adult. It could be a serious infection or virus causing the symptom that might require immediate medical treatment. Based on instructions from your doctor, you may also want to use natural remedies.
A few natural remedies to treat hoarseness:
- Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water, to stay hydrated and keep airways moist
- Drink hot herbal teas or hot lemon water
- Use a vaporizer to add humidity to the air as you breathe. Check out Vicks 1.5 Gallon Vaporizer with Night-Light to help add humidity to any room in your home
- Vocal rest, not using your voice at all or very rarely, is highly recommended, and it is the best way to regain strength while also protecting the vocal cords from any potential damage
- Avoid any strenuous use of your voice such as singing, shouting and whispering
- If hoarseness is accompanied with a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water to help sooth
Also, while it is not an uncommon affliction, please note that hoarseness should not be a common occurrence. If you are experiencing hoarseness or some vocal loss or diminishment routinely, please tell your physician. This might require a trip to a specialist, otolaryngologist, to determine the root cause of this issue.