How to retreive a lost voice quickly?
February 4, 2008 7:22 AM   Subscribe

Do you have any "magical" home remedies for a lost voice?

My boyfriend lost his voice singing karaoke with a bit too much gusto a couple of weeks ago. His band is playing this Saturday; he is the vocalist.
He is already gargling with warm salt water and drinking hot tea with honey. He seems utterly incapable of not talking to rest his voice.

Anyone have any experience/advice on how to get his voice back before Saturday?

posted by argylekneesocks to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Aak! Please pretend I typed "retrieve" instead of "retreive." Thank you.
posted by argylekneesocks at 7:23 AM on February 4, 2008

duct tape over lips. seriously. He needs to not use his voice at all to get it better. get him a pad of paper or something so he can communicate, because the best way to help his voice (vocal cords) heal is to not use them. By talking (especially if he is whispering) he is making it worse.

hmmm.... better poke a hole in the duct tape so he can still drink.
posted by silkygreenbelly at 7:28 AM on February 4, 2008

In movies and on TV (which is what I base reality on) I see singers wearing scarves while nursing their throats. So maybe a scarf combined with the salt water and tea will push his throat over the edge into healthiness.

Ooh! And on Crocodile Dundee I saw Paul Hogan dump some cocaine into a pot of boiling water to use as a vaporizer. So he could try that too. Only maybe not cocaine, something mentholated or something.

Also maybe try Vick's Vapo rub.
posted by ian1977 at 7:30 AM on February 4, 2008

This is an old remedy that works.
posted by watercarrier at 7:36 AM on February 4, 2008

Lozenges with glycerin help me when my throat is raw. Brings a little bit of moisture back. Lemons used to work. Guaifenesin can help, too. It's a main ingredient in expectorants, but it gets used a lot by people who sing. It helps lubricate the vocal folds. One of the over-the-counter names is Mucinex. You have to drink a lot of water when taking it, though... Or it'll dry you out.

But, really... If dude wants to sing on Saturday, he needs to drink lots of fluids and do anything he can to bring that moisture back... And keep talking at a vast minimum.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 7:39 AM on February 4, 2008

He seems utterly incapable of not talking to rest his voice.

That's going to make any suggestions in this thread pretty moot. Tell him he's being a doofus. And DEFINITELY take a tape recorder to his show. Could be memorable.
posted by 1 at 7:49 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Throat Coat tea can help to soothe a sore throat too but then again, if the goal is for him to not talk, maybe you shouldn't make him more comfortable because then he'll just talk more.
posted by cabingirl at 7:51 AM on February 4, 2008

Hmmmm....well, two weeks is a long time to go with continued hoarseness. If he still has not regained full use of his voice by now, your boyfriend may have either re-injured his vocal folds by stubbornly refusing to rest them, or he might have the beginnings of a node. I'm probably wrong about that, but it wouldn't hurt to go to an ENT and get some professional advice if he's serious about being a singer.

In the meantime, what may be causing the continued hoarseness is mucus that's formed on his vocal folds to aid in healing. He should drink lots of water. He might also try a gargling a solution of 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 salt and 8 ounces of warm water twice a day to soothe his vocal folds and loosen the mucus. However, he's only going to continue to injure them if he won't stop talking. I would encourage text messaging - seriously - IMing - again, seriously - e-mail, writing things down long hand on a pad, anything to keep from talking. He might also try slippery elm drops which you can find at any natural foods store to keep his folds lubricated and to ease any pain. If he's been drinking tea, make sure it's herbal - caffeine or any other diuretic causes dryness and will only make the problem worse.

Light humming is also good for vocal fatigue. By light, I mean a high, easeful sort of sighing motion with the lips closed and with absolutely no force behind the breath. Think of the sort of "Ahhh!" sound associated with quenching your thirst, only with your lips closed and with NO FORCE AT ALL behind it.

Lastly, holistically speaking, your boyfriend should learn to sing without straining his vocal folds. This means he should learn to sing with adequate breath support, an open throat, with his diaphragm engaged, and to use his vocal fry minimally or not at all. (Vocal fry is the range some rock singers use to create that gritty, screaming sort of sound - sounds cool, not so great for your vocal folds, unfortunately.)

And he might consider passing on this particular gig, but, since that's not going to happen, best of luck and, seriously, he needs to shut the hell up until he hits the stage.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 7:52 AM on February 4, 2008

If it's already two weeks and he still can't speak, go see a doctor. I got sore throats all the time and if it's been a week or more I get on antibiotics. Darren Hayes got a bad bout of it once and had to get an injection (he was in the middle of a tour, can you imagine).

Cough drops help as well.
posted by divabat at 7:58 AM on February 4, 2008

If his throat is as irritated as you say, then nthing everyone else here - if he doesn't want nodes, he'd better not do much talking. If he pushes his voice too hard while having nodes, he'll end up like Meatloaf. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't want that.

But if he insists, honey and millk products will help soothe an irritated throat, but he shouldn't consume anything with alcohol, caffeine, sugar or milk products in it for two hours before he goes onstage.

In the long term, he might think about investing in some singing lessons. That will at least teach him to protect his voice so he's still using it years from now.

Also, get him to read this.
posted by LN at 7:59 AM on February 4, 2008

My dad is a studio musician, and he's given me the same advice the few times I've lost my voice:

1. Don't talk unless necessary, and when you do talk, be very quiet. Don't force yourself to whisper, but keep a very low, calm volume and tenor. Whispering stresses your voice more than breathing carefully to speak quietly.

2. Drink water. Only water. Nothing else.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2008

Those old folk cures your grandpap told you about aren't going to do anything. If he's serious about getting better he's going to have to shut his mouth for a while. Tell him to:

1.) Rest the voice
2.) See a doc if it doesn't get better
3.) Use the voice properly to avoid future problems
posted by Caper's Ghost at 9:09 AM on February 4, 2008

Jalapenos. Seriously. My mother would get laryngitis and that would always work but only for short bursts.
posted by medea42 at 10:04 AM on February 4, 2008

Thanks, everyone! He's kept his mouth shut since I made him read this thread. And I'm getting better at deciphering his miming. :)
posted by argylekneesocks at 10:52 AM on February 4, 2008

Friar's balsam. I once had to do an interview at a natural food store the same day that I got laryngitis. The owner gave it to me and I was still able to talk by the end of the day. This seriously clears up laryngitis (and other throat issues) very quickly. If you start taking it (you take it in water) when the throat issue comes on, it'll be gone within 24 hours. (Perhaps a bit longer for the fellow here once he gets it.) But I highly recommend this stuff to everybody without reservation.

It is, however, a pain in the ass to find in person, hence the links to places to order it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:05 PM on February 4, 2008

Well, if he can't get his hands on any "Singers Saving Grace," at a health food store, this is the second best thing.

Get a bottle of regular Coke in a can and some Goody's headache powder. Swallow the powder on its own (eww, but it works) and wash it down with the Coke.

We use this trick in musical theatre when people have blown their voices. I have no idea why this works.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 6:44 PM on February 4, 2008

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