Most COVID-19 symptoms have become common knowledge and obvious, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, and headaches, but one symptom that isn’t talked about nearly as much is throat discomfort and change to your voice.
To understand why COVID-19 is affecting people’s voices (sometimes even permanently) one must first understand how humans speak. The larynx, or, as some may know it as, the “voice box” is an organ located in your throat that hosts two flapping pieces of tissue known as your vocal chords. The vibration of your vocal chords is what produces sound and allows you to speak (or sing.)
Upper respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, are known to cause inflammation in the larynx, which is why your throat often hurts when you are sick. When inflamed, your vocal chords swell and are less effective at vibrating, thus affecting the way you talk or sing. Effects on the voice can vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the person’s symptoms. If you experience a large amount of coughing while sick, you can expect the effect on your voice to be greater, as coughing further irritates your larynx and causes increased inflammation of the vocal chords.
What To Do To Keep Your Voice Healthy
- Keep hydrated
- Avoid speaking
- Speak softly
- Use cough drops
Vagus Nerve Damage From COVID-19
Prolonged effects of COVID-19 may be experienced if the Vagus Nerve is damaged. Damage to the Vagus Nerve can affect your vocal chords and in turn worsen the very symptoms that caused your hoarse COVID-19 voice in the first place. If you suspect that you may have long-term vocal damage from COVID-19 you should consult with your doctor or an ENT (Ear/Nose/Throat) Specialist as soon as possible. Some damage may be permanent but other damage is temporary or can be prevented with proper treatment.
The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered health advice. Always consult with a doctor before making any health or lifestyle change.