Hoarseness and Laryngitis

Parent Q&A

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  • Gravelly voice

    (12 replies)

    Weird question but I'm a woman with a fairly low pitched voice normally.  The last few years I've noticed that sometimes my voice is very gravelly -- like I'm a 2 pack a day smoker!  And in the last few months, my normally low pitched voice sounds strained and higher pitch and my throat feels tight.  I do have some mild to moderate seasonal allergies which are usually worse in fall but definitely around in spring and wondering if sinus drainage could be the culprit.  Anyone have a similar situation and if so did anything help?  I hate to take medicine every day so save the allergy medicine for days when I'm having bothersome symptoms but wondering if if it would help if I took it more consistently? Thanks everyone!

    I had this exact thing with the smoke from the fires. Then I proceeded to get asthma. Good times.

    Please see your doctor. This could be acid reflux, allergies, or something more serious. Get a referral to an ENT specialist so they can visualize your throat. 

    Not that this is necessarily what is going on, but low/gravelly voice *can* be a sign of a thyroid issue. It is worth getting it checked out by an endocrinologist. Make sure they look thoroughly at all levels. The most superficial thyroid test that your GP might order is not detailed enough. Trust me on this! If it's not a thyroid issue then you can start exploring other causes, but it's definitely worth ruling this out.

    You might try checking out the symptoms of laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR) which is a type of "silent" acid reflux. It can often lead to gravelly voice, post-nasal drip, chronic throat-clearing. If these symptoms seems to match yours, an ENT doctor can confirm.  You can try a diet which avoids the specific LPR triggers ( I was told the big 4 were caffeine, chocolate, alcohol mint - although there's a much longer version of the list for general acid reflux).

    I have been like that for a year and smoke has made it much worse. I use nasal spray at night. Have chronic stuffed up nose at night.

    I have suffered from allergies for years. About 15 years ago, I got fed up with how bad things were, and tired of having to take steroidal nasal spray, and visited an osteopath. She recommended "nasal lavage": a simple rinsing of the nasal passages with salt water 2x a day. It sounds distasteful, I know, but it's actually very pleasant, and it has changed my life! The ratio is 1 cup of previously boiled water to 1/2 tsp sea salt. While some folks use a a nettipot, I just use one of those little bulb syringes you use for baby medicine. Fill it, run it through each nostril twice; it runs out the other nostril, removes all the allergens and unwanted particles, clears out the phlegm, and reduces swelling. Once when you get up in the morning, once before you go to bed. I haven't had a cold in years, either! As folks have said, the smoke is making everything much worse. This really helps!

    Wouldn’t hurt to see a doctor. It might not be an allergy, it might be gastric reflux or something else entirely. A few years ago I developed a scratchy gravelly voice and got a full check up. The doctor noticed I had a deviated septum and some post nasal drip (and no gastric reflux) but he basically said “Just drink more water” and didn’t even prescribe medication. It turned out my new job required me to talk a lot more and my throat was just overused and the scratchy voice went away by itself. So get it checked out, and don’t assume seeing a doctor means being put on allergy meds forever. 

    You don't mention your age, but as a singer, I have noticed that my voice has definitely changed as I've gotten older. Here's an interesting article:https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu/wellness-community/blog/feeling-hoarse-you-get-older-heres-how-protect-your-voice#:~:text=These%20changes%20can%20be%20due,vibrate%20evenly%20for%20efficient%20voicing.

    As long as you are otherwise healthy, I wouldn't be super worried, but it's always good to mention it to your doctor at your next visit. Good luck!


    You need to see a doctor. Voice changes can be a sign of many serious medical issues such as laryngeal tumors 

    My voice got increasingly gravelly and it turned out to be a thyroid issue. Taking levothyroxine completely resolved it so you might want to have your thyroid checked to see if you can rule that out (and echoing a previous commenter about trying to see a specialist isn't deeply knowledgeable on thyroid issues). My allergies have gotten worse over the last few months as well thanks to all the ways our environment is changing - I use saline nose drops or do a netty pot rinse when they get bad and I don't want to take Zyrtec every  day (the allergies haven't affected my voice though - that was strictly thyroid).

    I was floored when my similar symptoms turned out to be GERD (acid reflux in the larynx.). Ask your doc ... lots can be done with diet, time of eating, sometimes meds.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Losing voice about 2 times a year in the winter

Jan 2006

I recently read that rapper Foxie Brown lost her hearing permanently due to a viral infection, and had she seeked help sooner her voice could have been saved with a course of anti biotics.

This got me thinking about a similar issue. My husband has lost his voice about two times a year each winter for the past three years. It usually happens with after/during a cold and a long lecture(3.5 hours). After 2 or 3 days the voice comes back, and until I read this piece about Foxy Brown, I never really thought that this could have more serious implications. Of course my husband has not seen a doctor and does not think it is necesary!!!

I would love to be reassured by someone who has been losing their voice for years and are just fine. Any thought on this issue will be appreciated. anon

The only point I want to make about your question is that if Foxie Brown lost her hearing to a viral infection, antibiotics would not have done ANY good, as antibiotics are only good for bacterial infections. Sometimes the nerve pathways from the ears and throat are affected by infection and permanent damage can result. I would recommend that your husband see an ear/nose/throat specialist to rule out some major problem or see a homeopathic physician to help figure out what could be wrong (or both)! Good luck. RN in Berkeley

In the last couple of years, I've gotten bad colds and developed laryngitis. I went to the doctor the first time it happened because it freaked me out. I had lost my voice completely. I thought maybe I needed antibiotics. She told me that losing your voice means you have a virus so she would not prescribe antibiotics. I'm no doctor, but I remember learning in college biology that antibiotics treat bacterial infections, not viruses. Not sure about Foxy Brown, but I found that I got sick less after doctors stopped prescribing antibiotics over every little thing. But, again, not a doctor here.

I used to lose my voice often as a kid and teenager, but that was probably due to talking too much or too loud. I don't remember it being related to a cold.

I find it interesting that lately I lose my voice with every cold I've gotten since I had kids. I'm thinking I'm just catching a different strain of the cold virus.

My favorite soothing remedy is hot tea with lemon. I also eliminate dairy until it comes back. That, and not talking.

Good luck to your husband. a bit hoarsey

Alternative Med for laryngitis

Aug 2003

I have always been prone to laryngitis and now that I do public speaking for a living, it has become a real occupational hazard. I've found nothing in traditional medicine that works to prevent laryngitis and wonder if anyone has any leads in alternative medicine to help strengthen my weak throat. anon

I have found that zinc and slippery elm and licorice help me when I am doing a lot of public speaking - to sort of keep the throat lubed, as well as to combat any early signs of sore throat. But if you are getting laryngitis a lot (not just sore throat), another strategy might be better. Laryngitis is a viral infection of the vocal cords, I believe, and so reinforcing your immunity with herbs, exercise, rest, sufficient water, etc. may help.

You also might want to get some voice coaching - from someone who works with speakers or singers maybe - because you may be overstraining in ways you could learn to avoid. Dry Throat Too

Indoor air pollution may be contributing to the problem. Open windows. Stop using ammonia, bleach, fragrances and fragranced products. Stay away from new carpets, new cars and car exhaust. anon

I did a lot of backstage work in theatre and every musical actor or opera singer used Throat Coat Tea - can't remember the company name, but you can find it at Whole Food's. Liz

I have always found that tossing a spoonful of honey down my throat before bedtime helped. (After brushing, without letting it touch my teeth.) Couldn't tell you why it works. k12mcc