HomeHealthArchivesDec 2003


At a Loss for Words

As temperatures drop, the number of cases of laryngitis goes up. Hoarseness and voice loss are more common in winter when cold temperatures, dry indoor air, colds, flu, and other factors irritate the vocal cords.

Aggravated vocal cords become swollen or afflicted with small bumps, which prevent them from working properly. In addition to causes directly related to winter, voice problems occur because of allergies and those much-maligned habits of ingesting alcohol and caffeine, and smoking.

Overuse is, however, the most frequent culprit of voice loss. The many holiday parties and sporting events in wintertime have you cheering at the top of your lungs or trying to talk over very loud music.

You can't do much about some causes of laryngitis, but there are some steps you can take to protect your voice:

o  Rest it: Don't scream, cheer too loudly, or talk over loud music;

o  Humidify the air in your home and drink lots of water;

o  Don't drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks, which are drying;

o  Avoid tobacco smoke, which also dehydrates;

o  Don't clear your throat; swallow hard or cough instead.

Time and rest are usually all that's needed to cure a case of laryngitis, but if your voice loss persists, seek your doctor's advice.