Usually, the best way to treat hoarseness is to rest your voice, learn to talk at a normal volume, and let the taspiness run its course. Drinking warm beverages, such as hot tea with honey, is also quite soothing. And if you smoke, stop. If the hoarseness is accompanied by a cold or flu, you should treat your other symptoms as well as limit your conversation.

If you become hoarse only after certain instances—like after a late night out—and your voice returns to normal after a few days, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have chronic laryngitis or your hoarseness lasts more than a week, or if your voice changes, you should see your doctor immediately to rule out the possibility of polyps or a more serious problem. He or she may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist, who will use a laryngoscope to check your vocal cords for polyps or other growths. A laryngoscope is a thin, small, flexible tube that your doctor will insert through your nostril so that she can look down into your throat. The procedure lasts only a few minutes and requires a local anesthetic.

Tips and Precautions

Many people gargle with salt water or an antiseptic mouthwash when they become hoarse. Although you’re probably just doing what your mother told you to do when you were a kid, you may actually be doing more harm than good. First, you should keep the use of your vocal cords—including both speaking and gargling—to a minimum in order to give the larynx a chance to rest and heal. Second, salt water and antiseptic may irritate the infection of a cold more, delaying a return to your normal voice.


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