Is the Richmond weather making your voice scratchy and hoarse? The cold temperatures and harsh winds of winter can be hard on your voice. Here are some easy ways to take care of your voice during the cold winter months.

Common Causes of Voice Hoarseness

In general, voice hoarseness is more common in winter because we tend to spend more time indoors.  Low humidity and increased heat decreases the fluidity of mucus and dehydrates the vocal chords. This can easily create hoarseness in your voice.

Post-nasal drainage due to upper respiratory infection can also cause hoarseness.

Overuse of the voice, such as singing or shouting at a sporting event, can also tax the vocal chords. Being out in the cold weather doesn't help!

Other causes of hoarseness may include:

  • Inflammation from smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Acid reflux
  • Laryngitis
  • Allergies / dust mites

Like nosebleeds in the winter, voice hoarseness has it's own connection to the winter months, when people spend more time indoors.

How to Prevent Hoarseness

Rest Your Voice. One of the easiest ways to reduce hoarseness in your voice is to reduce speaking. Don't use your voice if you don't have to, and especially cut down on activities that put particular strain on the voice, like singing or shouting. Saving your voice will reduce inflammation and cause irritation to go down.

Humidify. Because your vocal chords dry out at night when you're sleeping, consider using a humidifier at night to help thin out the mucus.

Stay Hydrated. Staying hydrated is not only important for your health, it's one of the easiest ways to stave off hoarseness. Drink six to eight glasses of water a day for best results.

Home Remedies. Decaffeinated tea with honey is an effective standby for soothing a hoarse voice. Nasal saline and neti pot sinus rinses can also help.

Over-the-Counter Remedies. For particularly troublesome mucus or sore throats, you can buy Mucinex or other guaifenesin-based medication to reduce hoarseness and make breathing easier. This may be particularly necessary if you have other symptoms.

When to See a Doctor

In many cases, a bit of hoarseness in your voice is nothing to worry about. However, hoarseness that persists for four weeks or longer without improving, or that impacts your quality of life, should be cause for seeking further treatment.

If you have a hoarse voice with other symptoms that have not improved for a week to ten days, contact Virginia ENT to schedule an appointment today.