When you talk, yell or sing for a long time, your voice may become hoarse. In simple terms, a hoarse voice or hoarseness means an abnormal change in your voice due to which you cannot make smooth vocal sounds. Your voice may change in pitch and volume, leaving you with a deep, harsh voice or a weak, whispery voice. This change is due to some problem in the sound-producing parts (vocal folds) of the voice box (larynx).
People of all ages develop this common problem from time to time. In addition to overuse of vocal cords, some common causes of a hoarse voice are laryngitis (upper respiratory tract viral infection), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies, drinking excessive amounts of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, smoking, inhaling respiratory tract irritants, living in an extremely dry place and persistent coughing.
Other less common causes are polyps (abnormal growths) on the vocal cords, throat cancer, internal damage to the throat, thyroid problems and nerve conditions that weaken the voice box muscles.
To treat a hoarse voice, the first thing you need to do is stop talking and singing. Even avoid talking in whispers as much as possible. You must fully rest your vocal cords and larynx for a couple of days for quick recovery.
You can also try some quick fixes and home remedies to recuperate in a short time. If you have persistent hoarseness for more than two weeks, consult your doctor.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat a hoarse voice.
Ginger is an effective herb to deal with a hoarse voice. It is very soothing to the mucous membranes surrounding the voice box and alleviates inflammation. It also helps prevent infections in the upper respiratory tract.
- Eat thin slices of raw, fresh ginger at regular intervals. To enhance the taste, you can sprinkle a little salt and lemon juice on it.
- Another option is to simmer 1 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and add honey. Drink this up to 3 times a day.
- Sucking on ginger candy is also helpful.
Honey is very effective in dealing with a hoarse voice. It helps coat and soothe the irritated throat and helps reduce inflammation.
- Simply eat 1 tablespoon of raw, organic honey a few times daily to keep the throat moist.
- Another option is to mix 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey and a pinch of black pepper powder in a glass of warm water. Drink it a few times a day.
- Alternatively, mix equal amounts of honey and basil leaf juice. Eat it 3 times daily.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
To ease pain and other discomforts of a hoarse voice, use apple cider vinegar. Also, its antimicrobial properties help fight infection to treat laryngitis, one of the most common causes of a hoarse voice.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. Drink it a few times daily.
- Also, mix equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water. Use the solution to gargle at least twice a day.
4. Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with warm salt water, a few times a day, is an effective treatment to restore your voice to normal. While the salt helps remove mucus from the respiratory tract, the hot water reduces irritation in the throat. Due to its antiseptic properties, salt also helps prevent a throat infection.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water.
- Mix well, until the salt dissolves completely.
- Gargle with it 2 or 3 times daily.
5. Steam Treatment
A common cause of a hoarse and raspy voice is dryness in your throat. Hence, a steam treatment will help ease discomfort. To make the treatment more effective, you can use a few drops of essential oil.
- Heat a pot of water until boiling.
- Add a few drops of lavender, chamomile and thyme essential oils.
- Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam rising from the pot.
- Do this twice daily.
6. Cayenne Pepper
To fight hoarseness quickly, you can also try cayenne pepper. It helps soothe an irritated throat, reduces pain and swelling, and even helps fight a throat infection.
- Mix ½ or 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder with 1 tablespoon of honey. Slowly eat the mixture off the spoon.
- Alternatively, you can add ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and the juice of ½ lemon to a glass of warm water. Drink it slowly.
You can always rely on lemon to relieve a hoarse voice quickly. It helps keep the throat moisturized and relieves soreness and inflammation. In addition, the vitamin C in lemon helps combat the spread of infection.
- Mix 1 tablespoon each of honey and lemon juice in a cup of lukewarm water. Sip the mixture slowly, a few times daily.
- Another option is to dilute the juice of 1 lemon in ½ cup of warm water. Use it to gargle at least twice daily. You can also add a little salt to this solution.
- You can also sprinkle a little salt and pepper on a piece of lemon and lick it slowly.
Garlic is another common kitchen ingredient that can help treat hoarseness. It prevents inflammation, reduces pain and promotes quick healing.
- Cut 1 clove of garlic in half. Put one half on each side of your mouth and bite down gently. Suck on the juice to reduce irritation and promote healing.
- Also, add a few drops of garlic oil to ¼ cup of warm water. Gargle with this solution twice daily.
9. Slippery Elm
Slippery elm is a wonderful herb that helps coat the mucous membranes and gets rid of hoarseness within a few days very effectively.
- Add 2 tablespoons of slippery elm powder to 2 cups of hot water. Let it steep for 5 minutes. Drink this tea up to 3 times a day.
- You can also try slippery elm lozenges.
Note: Slippery elm is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
In Ayurvedic medicine, green cardamom is often used to treat a hoarse voice. It helps by fighting inflammation and soothing the mucous membranes.
- Chewing a pod of cardamom will moisten the mouth as well as the mucous membrane.
- Alternatively, mix together crushed cardamom seeds from a cardamom pod with 1 tablespoon of honey. Have it daily.
- Another option is to add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and cardamom to a glass of hot water. Mix thoroughly, strain the solution and use it to gargle at least twice daily.
- Suck on frozen fruit-flavored ice pops.
- Avoid shouting.
- Avoid clearing your throat, as it will aggravate hoarseness.
- If you smoke, quit. Also, avoid second hand smoke.
- Avoid drinking alcohol, as it will dry the throat and aggravate the condition.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom to help keep your throat moist while you sleep.
- To keep the vocal cords moist, drink warm water at regular intervals throughout the day.
- Take a hot shower, as the steam will help open your airways and provide moisture.
- Eliminate allergens from your environment, as these can worsen or trigger hoarseness.
- Do not use decongestants, as these can irritate and dry out the throat.
- Try deep breathing exercises to reduce blockage and keep the inner lining of the throat moist.