How long does it take to get your voice back after losing it due to laryngitis and other possible medical ailments?
If you have experienced losing your voice and went to see a doctor, most probably, you were informed that you have laryngitis. It is a medical condition where your larynx gets inflamed and irritated due to several factors, such as allergies or other ailments.
The voice box or larynx gets irritated when there’s an infection, like the common cold, or when it is overused. The vocal cords are found inside the larynx, and these vocal cords vibrate to make a sound each time we sing or speak.
When these vocal cords get irritated and swollen, it produces a distorted sound or no sound at all. When this happens, you need to ask help from a doctor for treatment.
What Is Laryngitis?
Laryngitis is a vocal disorder where the larynx or voice box gets irritated and inflamed due to a viral infection. The vocal cords found inside the voice box are the ones that produce the sound that we make as we speak or sing. When your vocal cords get infected by a virus, it cannot perform its normal function. This can lead to voice hoarseness or total loss of voice.
Viral Laryngitis Symptoms
The first thing that you will notice when you have viral laryngitis is the feeling of soreness in your throat, followed by a change in the sound of your voice. These changes in your voice may happen gradually. In other cases, you may lose your voice completely after a day or two, where you can only whisper or do sign language to convey your thoughts. Laryngitis may be accompanied by mild fever or a cough, which can add to the strain on the vocal cords.
Sometimes, laryngitis is associated with other infections, like tonsilitis, pharyngitis, or the common cold. In this scenario, you may also experience other symptoms, such as headache, sore throat, swollen glands in the neck, tiredness, difficulty in swallowing, runny nose, and aches and pains all over the body.
How to Get Your Voice Back
Below are some quick fixes that you can try to alleviate the pain in your throat and help speed up the process of getting your voice back.
1. Voice Rest
On the onset of voice hoarseness, refraining from talking a lot is still the best home remedy so that your voice can rest and recover faster. If the need to talk is essential, then you can still do it but do so in a softer voice. Then again, you should not whisper, as it may put more strain on your vocal cords.
Overusing your voice will only prolong the healing process, resulting in a longer time to get the typical sound back.
2. Do Not Whisper
As mentioned earlier, please resist the urge to whisper. Doing so is more harmful to your vocal cords as compared to normal talking. This is because the vocal cords are pulled tighter when you whisper, delaying the healing process.
3. OTC Pain Relievers
You can take pain relievers that do not require a prescription to relieve mild pains in the throat, as well as aid in healing the swollen larynx and vocal cords.
4. Avoid Decongestants
When we have colds, our first instinct is to drink a decongestant to clear our stuffy noses. However, if you are taking decongestants because of laryngitis due to the cold, it is advisable to stay away from this medication. This is because it can dry the throat even more.
5. Consult a Doctor
If you need your voice to fulfill your job, some doctors recommend prescription medicines, like corticosteroids, to lessen the inflammation.
Since most vocal disorders are due to a viral infection, drinking lots of fluids combined with resting your voice can speed up the healing process.
7. Drink Warm Liquids
Drinking warm liquids are known to relieve painful and irritated throats. Make sure that you drink liquids that are not caffeinated to prevent dehydration. You can drink soups, broth, warm water, and green tea for its antioxidant properties. Do this at least five times daily. You can still drink coffee if you can’t avoid it; just make sure you compensate by doubling your fluid intake.
8. Gargle With a Salt and Water Mix
Gargle with a salt and water mix at least three times daily until your voice returns to normal. Use the mixture of one teaspoon of salt added to one glass of warm water.
9. Suck on a Lozenge
Throat lozenges are medicated candies that aim to anesthetized your sore and painful throats. It will also initiate saliva production as you suck or chew, which can help keep your throats moist at all times.
10. Take Hot Showers
Hot showers produce steam, which soothes the sore throat as it moistens the vocal cords. You can also use essential oils, like eucalyptus, while showering by putting some on your hand so you can inhale it. Alternatively, you may want to hang a bunch of fresh eucalyptus in your bathroom.
11. Use a Humidifier
Less saliva is produced at night as you sleep, resulting in a dry throat and increased bacteria in the mouth.
Keeping your throat moist throughout the night by using a humidifier prevents throat irritation.
12. Boil Some Water
For those who do not have access to a hot shower, you can use the steam from a pot of boiling water to keep the irritated larynx and vocal cords moist.
13. Chew Gums
Look for specialty gums that are intended for keeping your dry throat moist. The chewing process helps stimulate your salivary glands in producing more saliva.
14. Stop Smoking
Smoking and vaping can irritate your throat. What’s more, the nicotine hinders the healing process of your inflamed throats.
15. Avoid Alcoholic Beverages
Drinking alcohol can also cause dehydration, which you need to avoid to stop irritating your throat more.
How Long Does It Take to Get Your Voice Back
Typically, laryngitis due to viral infection worsens within two to three days after its onset. It will then start to get better in a week. While you may notice the disappearance of symptoms after a week, your voice may still be hoarse or raspy.
It is said that inflamed vocal cords take longer to heal even after the virus has gone from your body. Also, there’s no way to tell how long it takes before your voice returns to its typical sound. Complete healing of the vocal cords will also depend on how you take care of your voice, as well as how you protect your vocal cords from things that can trigger another infection.
Other Causes of Voice Hoarseness and Laryngitis
Apart from a viral infection, voice hoarseness and laryngitis may also be caused by bacteria and other germs. Another possible cause of a vocal ailment is how you use your voice as you speak or sing. If you continuously scream, talk loudly, or sing in high octaves for more extended periods, that can be considered as voice abuse. Overusing and abusing your vocal cords may result in inflamed and irritated vocal folds.
If your laryngitis persists for more than three weeks, it is now called chronic laryngitis, which may be due to fungal infection. Allergies like asthma, hay fever, and allergic rhinitis may also cause inflammation of your larynx. The backflow of acid from your stomach can also irritate the larynx and vocal cords. The nicotine from the cigarette and the damaging substance from an alcoholic beverage also trigger vocal disorders.
Trauma or injury to your neck, as well as side effects from certain medications, is also a valid reason for voice raspiness.
When to See a Doctor
Seeing a medical practitioner is not necessary during the first week of the viral infection. However, you still have to observe any unusual changes you may feel. If you notice symptoms that are more severe or different from what we have mentioned earlier, then it’s now time to see a doctor. If you are having difficulties with your breathing, call a doctor or an ambulance immediately. It’s also time to see a doctor if you are experiencing high body temperature for more than two days straight. You can check with your health care professional if your voice is still raspy, or it hasn’t returned to normal for more than three weeks.
See a doctor right away if you notice swollen neck glands that will not disappear even after weeks of getting rid of the infection. Manifestations of swollen glands without signs of other symptoms or infection is another cause of alarm that should be attended to by your doctor.
Losing your voice after a neck operation should be coordinated with your doctor for further checking.
Losing your voice is difficult, especially if it is your primary tool to earn a living. We cannot give an exact answer to how long does it take to get your voice back once you lose it due to illness.
The healing time will always depend on the steps you take to regain your voice and bring it back to normal. To avoid straining your voice, try to learn ways and techniques on how to use your voice correctly, especially when singing high notes.
To learn more how to take care of your voice and be a better singer, you can check out Singorama. This program helps both newbies and experts gain vocal agility strength, maximize their range, and a lot more.