How To Get Your Voice Back: A 3 Minute Guide
Having a strong, capable voice is a cornerstone of authority and grace. In this guide, I'll teach you how to get your voice back in minutes using natural tips & tricks.
You'll learn how to keep your vocal cords strong and supple by minimizing acidity, applying moisture at certain intervals, and avoiding certain sounds or phrases. Interested? Let's get started!
How to Get Your Voice Back in Minutes
Ohno! Whether it’s because of public speaking, a late night out with the girls, or yelling at your favorite football team on TV for too long, you’ve lost your voice. Speaking went from fun and easy to a challenge, and every time you open your mouth, you find yourself unable to make more than a low croak.
Despite this helping you sound a little closer to your idol Lana Del Rey, this is bad. Losing your voice hurts, it’s unhealthy, and it can cause permanent damage to your vocal cords if you’re not careful. Worst of all, people’s first reflex when they lose their voice is to start whispering — and this actually damages their vocal cords more than the alternative!
If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know that I talk extensively about the importance of keeping your vocal cords strong and taut in my articles on maximizing your vocal skills. As a vocal coach, I even teach courses on voice training (you can check out a free one here).
After several requests, I decided to create a quick and dirty guide to teach you how to get your voice back as quickly as possible. What follows is a science-based walkthrough on how to get your voice back quickly and safely, so you can keep doing what you do best.
1. Stop Pushing Through The Hoarseness or Pain Immediately
Most people’s first reflex when they lose their voice is to keep speaking in a low whisper. This seems intuitive: whispering uses less of your voice, so it must be palliative in some way, right?
Wrong. The longer you try pushing through the hoarseness in your voice by whispering or croaking, the longer it’ll take to get your voice back to normal.
Contrary to popular belief, whispering actually over-exerts your vocal cords by requiring more effort and contraction. The specific reasons for this are physiological in nature and beyond the scope of this guide, but frequent whispering can quickly irritate and inflame your larynx and trachea by pushing past your 'natural limits', so to speak.
Instead of switching to a low whisper, the moment you register that you’re starting to lose your voice, stop talking as quickly as possible, and definitely quit whispering. Let the people around you know that you've lost your voice, and stay quiet.
Of course, that's not practical for every situation. What if you do have to say something (due to a job, your environment, or another constraint)?
This may be counterintuitive, but if you're forced to speak with a lost voice, you're actually better off speaking at average loudness in a neutral tone than croaking or whispering your words.
Rule of thumb: get it out quickly, and go back to being quiet.
2. Gargle Every 30 Minutes Using Salt Water or an Over-The-Counter Solution
Now that we've dealt with what not to do, we can focus on tips & tricks for getting your voice back faster.
The first and often most helpful technique in getting your voice back is maximizing hydration. Over-use of your vocal cords leads to rawness and excessive drying—to help stimulate healing, then, you need to lubricate your throat quickly and often.
Unfortunately, gargling with regular water doesn’t actually help as much as using a salt water solution. Salt water helps soothe the throat because of its isotonicity, a fancy word referring to the concentration of molecules in two solutions.
Basically, the cells in your throat have similar amounts of salt inside of them as the amount of salt in a glass of salt water. This prevents fluid from being pulled or pushed into the cell, allowing them to hydrate slowly and gently over time.
If you were to gargle with regular water, you'd actually be pulling salt out of the cells in your throat, which can disrupt their natural balance of ions and prolong your weak, hoarse voice.
So despite how uncomfortable or gross it may be, add approximately 1/2 teaspoon of salt to every cup of water that you gargle, and try your best to do so every half-hour on the dot.
If you don't like the taste of salt water, you can also buy a healing rinse like Siddha Remedies, which I (& many other coaches) swear by. It tastes pineapple-y instead of salty, and includes a number of natural ingredients that reduce swelling and improve recovery - worth it if you lose your voice often.
3. Use Steam to Assist with Vocal Cord Hydration
In addition to gargling with salt water, another popular method of introducing hydration to your vocal cords is through steam. Warm steam both coats and helps relax the muscles of your throat. This encourages the healing process, and lets you get back to speaking louder faster.
There are many ways to steam your throat. One popular method is showering - the hot water in your shower naturally produces steam, and increases the water content of your bathroom. Since showers usually take ten to fifteen minutes, that's ten to fifteen minutes of significantly less moisture loss in your throat.
There are also plenty of steam inhalers you can use, like this one by Vicks. Not advisable to use in public (you'll look a little like Darth Vader), but the relief you feel after a five-minute session is immense.
More alternatives: you can boil water on your stovetop, or prepare several warm cups of tea the day that you're trying to get your voice back. The hot water in the tea naturally produces steam, and drinking it soothes the throat and relaxes your vocal cords.
4. Chew Gum Frequently
One of the best, little-known ways to get your voice back faster is by chewing gum. This is because gum stimulates the salivary glands in the mouth, which produce soothing saliva with similar concentrations to the salt water we mentioned earlier. Except this time, the solution isn't just water mixed with salt - it's water, salt, and the exact same nutrients used in the cells of your throat!
It also stimulates blood flow through repeated contractions of the muscles in the face, which improves general healing and repair. The more blood flow, the faster the cells in your vocal chords are able to acquire the necessary nutrients to get better faster.
In addition, the sugars in some gums can also help coat the throat, which assists healing — this is one of the reasons many people encourage sugar or honey for soreness! I recommend chewing a pack or more a day if you've completely lost your voice. Combine this with tea, moisture, and quiet, and your voice will be back in no time.
5. Avoid Acidic Foods
Acidic foods in and of themselves do not impact your throat’s ability to heal. However, they do stimulate acid reflux, which can significantly slow down the rate at which your voice comes back.
To be safe, I always recommend avoiding acidic foods for at least twelve hours after the onset of your voice loss. One of the most common reasons voices stay lost for days rather than hours is because people lie down too quickly after consuming acidic foods, and this lets the acid of the stomach irritate the lining of your throat.
Avoid this problem entirely by staying away from acid!
6. Use a Humidifier
Similar to steaming your throat, this method is all maximizing the hydration of cells in your throat.
To really get your voice back as quickly as possible, you want to ensure that you’re breathing air with relatively high humidity. The increased number of water droplets in the air helps prevent your throat from drying out during regular breathing.
If you're an avid singer, actor, or do voiceovers, having a cool mist vaporizer in your home can significantly improve recovery. They all do the same thing (spin a fan really fast on water to turn it into mist), so it's not super important what you get. I use this one because it's relatively cheap.
And that’s a wrap! Losing your voice can be tough, but if you have the right mindset (and couple that mindset with the techniques I showed you in this guide), you’ll be just fine.
Expect to stay away from heavy public speaking or singing related activities for as much as two or three days while you’re recovering. Some cases can show spectacular recovery in as little as four hours, but most will need to wait at least a day to see significant improvement. Good luck!
I sincerely hope that you enjoyed and received value from this article. If you're interested in reading more practical guides and how-to's, be sure to check out this one on maximizing your vocal attractiveness!