Voice Problem – Hoarse Throat

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out – Vaclav Havel, Czech playwright

One of the most common disorders that people write to me about is hoarseness or a raspiness in the throat. Here are my thoughts on that subject.

Have you ever felt like you were losing your voice?  I sure have!

In fact I’ve lost it several times and it’s a nasty experience, especially because my life is centered around being able to use my voice to perform, communicate and teach.

So I’d like to tell you what I do when my voice starts to get hoarse, which means I first have to tell you why it gets hoarse.

  • I’ve drained my energy by working too hard
  • I haven’t been exercising enough
  • I haven’t been laughing enough
  • I haven’t been resting or sleeping enough
  • I’m talking too loudly or harshly
  • I haven’t been eating right
  • I’m frustrated with my life, the outside world and the people around me, so I push my voice outside of its safe zone because I’m not paying attention to what if feels like inside of me

Sound familiar?

Here’s what I do about hoarseness: I do all I can to rein it in before it strangles me or I get polyps!

  • I gargle with salt water
  • I soften my voice and speak very little
  • I give myself permission to rest – this is a tough one!
  • I eat more fresh green vegetables
  • I drink fresh squeezed orange/grapefruit juice
  • I drink licorice tea
  • I suck on fresh ginger and drink fresh ginger tea
  • I rinse out my nasal passages and sinuses with a warm saline solution
  • I sleep and dream nice dreams
  • I look at my throat with a flashlight and a mirror, face the nasty swelling or infection and then ‘talk’ to my throat as if it’s a friend of mine who needs my encouragement and lots of TLC.
  • I use an anatomy book to visualize what’s physically going on in places I can’t see and then focus on making it better. All healing starts in the mind.
  • Did I mention rest?
  • Did I mention rest?
  • Did I mention rest?

Take care of your voice because it’s the only one you’re going to get in life, and you won’t be able to replace it at a music store if you badly damage it.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • BOB BUTTINELLI August 17, 2011, 10:12 am

    As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge Joy.

    • Joy August 18, 2011, 7:25 am

      You are most welcome, Bob!

  • pappu April 9, 2017, 5:10 am

    All the below things have never happened to me. This is the first time I am going through something like this.
    On 25/11/16, I just had a feeling that I may fall ill. The next morning I had a slight discomfort in my throat. I couldn’t afford to fall ill at this time. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered about it at all. Wouldn’t have gone to a doctor too. But it started playing on my mind. I did salt water gargling twice everyday for the next 10 days. And as a preventive measure I took the following home remedies for totally around 8 days.
    Day 1 – 2 cloves of garlic a dayDay 2 – 2 small pieces of gingerDay 3- a decoction made of coriander seeds, ginger, etc.Day 4 – some spicy ayurvedic churan with honey
    My throat condition worsened. Then I Consulted a general physician on 1/12/16- took raciper40 (3 tablets), just azi (3 tablets), medomol (9 tablets) across 3 days
    After around 10 days, I felt 80% ok. So I visited the doctor again.- took azithromycin (3 tablets), Maxtrocold (6 tablets) across 3 days.During this I started feeling anxiety, loneliness. Could feel my heart pounding loud and clear. I visited the doctor after 3 days. He asked me to stop taking any medicines. The doctor said the throat issue is more in my mind than in actual. He said I am totally fine. The throat will be totally alright within a week. All those weird feelings went away after I stopped taking the medicines.
    As on 15/12/16 1) Rough/hoarse voice. Voice cracks.2) Can’t talk continuously for more than a 1 minute3) too much saliva in mouth if I talk continuously for around 1 minute. But simaltaneously the throat becomes dry.4) Voice deteriorates after I talk for sometime. I need to give a break of atleast 15 minutes before talking again.5) Vocal cord feels very strained. Talking has become an effort.6) Run out of breath while talking. Sometimes a word is muted. 7) Partially blocked nose8) swollen gland in neck

    Theres been some improvement in the last 2 months. But my voice is still hoarse. The pain has reduced.
    As on 1/3/17
    1) Rough/hoarse voice. My voice still cracks.2) If I talk continuously for more than 10 minutes or so, I feel a burning sensation in my vocal chord and the area where the neck and chest meet. It increases as I go on talking. My throat pains slightly.3) Too much saliva in mouth if I talk continuously for around 5 minutes. But simaltaneously the throat becomes dry.4) Voice deteriorates; vocal cord feels very strained and tired after I talk for sometime. My voice automatically lowers in volume. I can’t talk loudly after that. I need to give a break of atleast 5 minutes before voice becomes better.5) Talking feels like an effort.6) Run out of breath after talking continuously for around 10 minutes. Sometimes a word is muted. 7) I am hesitant to talk loudly. It’s on my mind that I shouldn’t. 8) I am not able to use the full range of my voice. My voice still cracks at high pitch and low pitch. [My voice used to be really good at high as well as low pitch.]

  • pappu April 9, 2017, 5:21 am

    Currently my voice is hoarse. Throat feels dry. As I talk the dryness increases and simaltaneously there is a lot of saliva in the mouth. I visited an ent. Got an endoscopy done. He said that my vocal chords are swollen. I have been taking,
    Phlogam (2 tablets a day) and somp razor-toothed d (1 capsule a day) for the last one month.
    I was told that it should he fine in 30 days. I visited the ent again. He said there is only 50% improvement. I have been asked to continue the medication for another 20 days. And then meet the doctor.
    Please help me. I ve never felt so helpless. I am currently working on a short film. We are left with a day’s work. We have to wrap it up within the next 2 weeks, as our location is going to be demolished.

  • pappu April 9, 2017, 5:24 am

    I have been reading your articles for the whole day. And they seem magical and really informative and interactive.
    My voice is hoarse. I lose breath in between words sometimes. Some words are muted. The clarity in voice is not there. My throat feels strained as I talk.

  • pappu April 9, 2017, 5:32 am

    As I continue reading your articles, I learn so much. So many things that I never ever thought while acting.
    You are a knowledge bank. And an amazing person coz I see you addressing everyone’s problem in such a wonderful way. May many more people become like you.
    Voice Guru is the best title for you.
    Guru means the most revered teacher. The best.

    • Singing Master May 22, 2017, 7:29 am

      Hi Pappu,

      Thank you for your kind words and for the title of Voice Guru. I like that.

      How is the swelling on your vocal cords doing?

      Please keep me posted about your progress.

      Sing well, be well,
      Joy

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