The last thing you’d want is to lose your voice before a presentation, speech, or publish performance. What does it mean to lose your voice? Well, when you lose your voice, it’s most often due to laryngitis — an inflammation of the larynx.
Before we go over some of the popular home remedies that might help with laryngitis, let’s understand more about the causes and symptoms of it.
What is laryngitis?
Laryngitis is a condition when you experience inflammation of your larynx. The larynx, also known as the voice box, contains your vocal cords. These are folds of tissue that vibrate when you speak or sing, producing sound.
When you get laryngitis, these vocal cords become inflamed, resulting in swelling, redness and stiffness. Your vocal cords no longer vibrate as they should, changing the sound of your voice. In severe cases, the inflammation of your vocal cords can be so bad that you lose your voice altogether.
There are two types of laryngitis — acute laryngitis and chronic laryngitis. Both result in the same inflammation of the vocal cords — the difference lies in the cause of the condition.
Acute laryngitis is a one-off affliction. It’s caused by a viral upper respiratory tract infection or a one-time event that caused a strain on your vocal cords. With sufficient rest and adequate treatment, acute laryngitis can be resolved pretty quickly.
Chronic laryngitis lasts longer and is harder to treat. It can be caused by repetitive activities or conditions that cause damage to the larynx.
These activities include:
- Smoking or inhalation of irritants, chemicals or allergens
- Acid reflux that affects the larynx (laryngopharyngeal reflux)
- Fungal or bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract
- Repeated abuse of the vocal cords due to work (singers, teachers, public speakers etc.)
- Activities that can worsen the symptoms of acute laryngitis
|Type||Acute laryngitis||Chronic laryngitis|
|Period||– Comes on suddenly|
– Clears up in less than 14 days
|– Develop over long periods|
– Lasts for weeks or months
|Cause||Upper respiratory tract infection, viral agents or external factors such as |
– Vocal trauma
– Use of asthma inhalers
– Environmental pollution
– Chemical or thermal burns of your larynx
|External factors such as |
– Irritation from asthma inhalers
– Polluted air (i.e. gaseous chemicals)
– Vocal misuse (i.e. prolonged vocal use at abnormal pitch or loudness)
|Treatment||– Plenty of rest|
– Staying hydrated (externally and internally)
– Antibiotics (for bacterial infection)
– Cough suppressant to prevent long-term damage to your vocal fold tissue
|– Home treatments like drinking fluids, resting your voice and not smoking |
– Dietary changes like avoiding fried, spicy or fatty foods
What are the symptoms of laryngitis?
Not sure if you’ve laryngitis? Perhaps it’s just a mild sore throat? Or maybe your voice is just changing with age?
Here are some tell-tale signs of laryngitis:
- Change in voice to a lower or higher pitch
- Rough and gravelly voice
- Difficulty in projecting voice
- Voice fatigue that sets in early
- Pain or soreness in the throat after speaking or while swallowing
If you’re displaying any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor for proper diagnosis of your condition.
7 home remedies for laryngitis
If you’re looking for a quick fix for laryngitis without seeing a doctor, we’ve compiled seven laryngitis home remedies for you to try. Who knows, you might just get your voice back in time for that big presentation.
1. Rest your voice
Resting your voice will allow your vocal cords to heal. This will reduce the inflammation and prevent further irritation to the larynx.
When you’ve lost your voice, your first instinct will be to strain your voice so that you can be audible. Try not to speak unless necessary.
If you plan on calling someone, text them instead. Sit out of upcoming events that require you to speak. Avoid situations that require a lot of talking, singing or shouting.
2. Use a humidifier
In sunny tropical Singapore, air conditioning has become essential. While turning on the air conditioner keeps you cool, it also dries out the atmosphere. If you’ve been struck with laryngitis, breathing in dry air can irritate your fragile vocal cords.
Try using a humidifier to keep the air moist, while keeping your air conditioning on for the cool air.
Moisture is important to heal inflamed vocal cords. It can also loosen phlegm. Try adding a few drops of vapour rub to your humidifier to soothe discomfort in your throat. Vapour rubs generally contain menthol, which can have a cooling effect on your throat.
3. Drink plenty of water
If you’re suffering from laryngitis, it might be difficult to swallow. Nevertheless, it is always important to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water to keep your body in optimal condition for healing.
You might want to opt for warm water to loosen phlegm, flush out mucus and ease congestion. Avoid caffeinated drinks like Coke and coffee, as they can cause dehydration.
4. Suck on a throat lozenge
Strepsils, Ricola, Robitussin, Hacks, Fisherman’s Friend or Nim Jiom Herbal Candy. Pick one from your nearby grocery or convenience store. These lozenges contain herbal extracts that can be calming and soothing for your throat.
On top of calming and soothing properties, throat lozenges can help to moisten your throat, relieve pain and reduce coughing. Sucking on lozenges can also help to ease throat inflammation.
5. Gargle with warm salt water
Warm salt water is a great laryngitis home remedy. It can soothe the irritation in your throat, and kill any bacteria present — reducing the swelling and inflammation. It’s a simple solution that can easily be made with supplies readily available at home.
To make your own warm salt water solution, you’ll need salt and warm water:
- Mix a teaspoon of salt into a half cup of warm water.
- Take a small sip, look up and gargle — make sure the warm water reaches the back of your throat.
- Spit it out and repeat as many times as you like.
Gargling with warm salt water can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat too.
6. Hot drinks mixed with honey
Honey is an ingredient with tons of healing properties, and is a natural remedy for bacterial infections and inflammation. It is also known to suppress bouts of coughing that can aggravate your vocal cords.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Mix your honey with herbal tea. Herbal tea contains antioxidants that can boost your immune system.
- Mix your honey with apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties that can help you fight off nasty infections.
If you don’t have tea or apple cider vinegar, simply mixing honey with a warm cup of water will be sufficient and effective to soothe your throat.
7. Add ginger slices to your drinks
Ginger has been used as a traditional medicine for thousands of years and can be used in many ways. You can add slices of ginger to a hot drink like tea or warm water, or dice it and add it to your favourite smoothie for a spicy punch.
Ginger is great at suppressing coughs, clearing phlegm and treating throat infections.
What to avoid when you have laryngitis
Besides whipping up home remedies, there are also things you need to avoid when you have laryngitis. Remember to steer clear of the following to speed up your recovery:
1. Avoid spicy food
When you have laryngitis, steer clear of sambal, mala, chilli, curry and all things spicy. Spicy food can trigger gastrointestinal reflux and worsen the condition.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Stay hydrated with lots of fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can dehydrate you.
3. Refrain from smoking
Inhaling smoke can further irritate your already sensitive vocal cords. Smoking can also incite coughing or lead to chronic laryngitis, prolonging the healing process.
4. Avoid clearing your throat
The irritation in the throat and the struggle to speak naturally leads you to clear your throat. While it may be difficult, this should be avoided.
The act of clearing your throat will worsen the soreness and inflammation of the larynx.
5. Stay away from dry, smoky or dusty environments
When you inhale particles that irritate your nasal passageways, you can end up sneezing or coughing. This will worsen the condition and prevent your vocal cords from healing.
When to see a doctor for your laryngitis
Though laryngitis in adults is not severe, you should see a doctor if you’re experiencing any of the following:
- Been hoarse for more than two weeks
- Coughing up blood
- Have difficulties breathing
- Have a fever