If you have laryngitis, the best way to get your voice back is to spend a week at the library, in silence. This means not even whispering (it may seem odd, but a whisper strains the vocal cords as much as a shout). And try not to cough or clear your throat–either can damage your vocal cords.
Resting your vocal cords will help to stop them from developing more serious problems, such as bleeding or the formation of nodules, polyps or cysts. And as you give your voice a rest, try one or more of these soothing remedies.
Laryngitis home remedies
Drink at least 6-8 glasses of warm or lukewarm (not hot) water a day. Fluid keeps your larynx moist, which is critical for curing laryngitis.
Other warm liquids, such as chicken stock, can also help to ease the discomfort of a sore throat.
Horehound, a hairy-leaved member of the mint family, has long been used in proprietary cough sweets. You can purchase the liquid extract from a medical herbalist - take as directed.
Mullein (or Aaron's rod) contains gelatinous mucilage, which soothes irritated tissues. To make mullein tea, use 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb for each mug of boiling water, steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink. Drink 1-3 cups a day. Mullein is generally available from health food shops or online.
Another herb that has a soothing and healing effect on laryngitis is slippery elm. Due to its high mucilage content, this is a good emollient for the mucous membranes at the back of the throat. Mix 1 teaspoon powdered extract in a mug of warm water. Stir well and sip slowly, holding the mixture at the back of your throat for as long as possible before swallowing.
An old folk remedy for laryngitis is to drink a mixture of 2 teaspoons onion juice followed by a ‘chaser’ of 1 teaspoon honey. Take every 3 hours. If you don't have a juicer, squeeze half an onion between 2 plates and collect the juice that way.
Another remedy involves mixing up a tablespoon of honey with some lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Sip the mixture and repeat as often as necessary.
Steam treatments for laryngitis
Inhale steam from a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes, 2 to 4 times a day. To help trap the steam, drape a towel over your head to form a tent and breathe in deeply. The steam will help to restore lost moisture in your throat and accelerate healing. Make sure you set the bowl on a sturdy table and don't lean too close to the surface, to avoid getting scalded.
For a more powerful healing inhalation, add 4-6 drops antiseptic and anti-inflammatory essential oils, such as lavender, sandalwood or camomile, to the hot water.
Make a hot compress using mullein, sage, thyme or hyssop tea. Apply the compress to your throat, then wrap a dry towel around your neck to keep the heat in.
Stopping laryngitis before it starts
Breathe through your nose. Your nasal passages are natural humidifiers. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, exposes the voice box to dry, cold air.
Use a humidifier in your bedroom, or stand a bowl of water on the radiator. Your vocal cords are lined with mucosa that needs to be kept moist in order to repel irritants.
When you travel by air, chew gum or suck lozenges. The cabin air is excessively dry and your vocal cords suffer. If you keep your mouth closed and increase saliva production, you help to prevent dehydration.
Another trick when flying is to hold a wet cloth over your nose and mouth periodically to moisten the air passing through your airways.
Certain drugs, including blood pressure and thyroid medications and antihistamines, can be very drying to your throat, so check with your doctor.
If you smoke, quit. It's a major cause of throat dryness. And avoid smoky bars, clubs and parties.