How can COVID-19 affect my voice?
- COVID-19 can cause a sore throat, laryngitis and a cough, and some people may have needed a ventilator with a breathing tube through the voice-box which can cause an injury. Your voice may be weak and breathy or hoarse and you may have difficulties with voice projection.
- You may have throat discomfort; such as soreness, an irritable cough, a sensation of mucous pooling in the throat and feel the need to throat clear.
- Some people may feel their throat/upper airway becomes more sensitive to the environment around them. For example, a strong scent may trigger a cough, sensation of throat tightness or a restriction in your breathing at the top of your airway.
- Other influences may be dehydration of your voice box, acid reflux, fatigue and stress.
- Your voice reflects your general health and how you are feeling including fatigue and worry.
- Aim for good hydration. Sip water throughout the day to keep your voice working
- Don’t strain your voice. Don’t whisper as this can strain your vocal cords. Try not to raise your voice or shout
- Steam inhalation (covering your head with a towel and inhaling steam from a bowl of boiling water) for 10–15 minutes can help with dryness and moisturizes the vocal tract
- Gastric reflux (sometimes called acid reflux or heartburn) is very common, so avoid eating late at night or eating foods that cause indigestion
- Reduce or avoid smoking.
- Avoid lots of dairy produce as this can cause thick secretions and throat clearing
- Try not to ‘throat clear’ – use sips of water and a hard swallow
- Use other ways of communicating, such as writing, texting or using gestures, if
talking is difficult or uncomfortable.
Will my voice return to normal?
The inflammation and damage to your voice box should get better over time without treatment. However, if it doesn’t, please seek a referral to the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department via your GP and ENT Speech and Language Therapy.
Persisting alteration of your voice may be an indicator of damage to the vocal folds and will need further assessment.
Advice for persistant cough
- Try breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.
- Try sucking on low-sugar boiled sweets.
- Try the “stop cough exercise”. As soon as you feel the urge to cough, close your mouth and cover it with your hand (SMOTHER the cough). At the same time, make yourself SWALLOW. STOP breathing – take a pause. When you start to breathe again, breathe in and out through your nose SOFTLY.
- If you cough at night due to gastric reflux, try lying on your side or use pillows to
prop yourself up.