Losing your voice can be a scary thing. Voice loss or laryngitis happens when your vocal cords become inflamed from overuse, infection, or irritation. If you’re wondering about the severity of your voice loss, the Mayo Clinic has excellent information on symptoms and causes.
If you experience voice loss (laryngitis) for 2 weeks or longer, you should seek medical advice from an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT) to examine the cause of the persistent voice loss.
Short-Term Tips for Managing Your Voice Loss
Below are some tips to help reduce the strain associated with voice loss while awaiting your appointment with the ENT:
- Vocal rest- try not to use your voice as much as you typically do, however, do not whisper as that can be more harmful than shouting.
- Avoid calling out and yelling- walk to the person who you are talking to
- Drink lots of water- keep hydrated
- Manuka honey and ginger are great for the voice and soothing to have when the voice is not at its best.
- Avoid singing and throat clearing as they can be harmful to the voice when it is already in a weakened state.
What if the ENT recommends speech therapy for the voice loss?
If speech therapy is recommended for the voice loss, you will be referred directly to a qualified speech pathologist with experience in voice disorders. The speech pathologist will complete an assessment and set goals to get your voice back on track.
Exercises may focus on the following areas depending on your specific type of voice loss:
- Reduction of tension in the larynx (area where the vocal cords are housed)
- Improving the tone of the voice (may sound rough, raspy, hoarse when you are experiencing voice loss)
- Improving the pitch of the voice (how high or low the voice is)
- Altering diet to reduce symptoms of acid reflux
- Reducing hard contacts of the vocal cords when voicing, so that the voice starts easily and gently
- Relaxation exercises to help alleviate stress and strain
How long will it take to improve my voice loss?
Everyone is different with respect to their vocal use and musculature, so it is tricky to put an exact time frame to the therapy. Typically you will see vocal improvements in 6-10 sessions; you may need some maintenance sessions to keep up with the new strategies and improved way of using your voice.
At SpeechWorks, we have a fully equipped voice lab with videostrobscopy analysis to view your vocal cords when you are speaking and computer equipment that allows us to track your progress in therapy. Call us or check out our voice lab for more information! We would be happy to help you with your vocal needs.
Linda Saarenvirta is a speech-language pathologist who has been practicing for over 20 years in the healthcare field. She has worked with a variety of communication disorders and clients of all ages. She is extremely passionate about voice therapy and enjoys helping clients achieve their vocal needs. Her client centered approach to therapy ensures all clients maximize their potential and achieve their goals.