tissue box and crumple tissues on a desk with a mug and glasses - how sickness affects the voice

How An Illness Can Effect Your Voice

It is inevitable that you will get sick at some point in your life. However, if your line of work requires the frequent use of your voice, it can have negative effects beyond just feeling crummy. So, how do different illnesses affect the voice, and what can you do when you are sick with a hoarse voice? Continue reading to learn about how sickness affects the voice.

How Sickness Affects The Voice


The first kind of illness that you may come across is the common cold. Many people have had a cold and chances are you’ll experience this too, multiple times. According to the Mayo Clinic, some symptoms of the common cold include a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, fever, body aches, and mild headache. In addition to that, your voice may be affected too. It can be affected by a cough and even a sore throat. This is only a minor effect on the voice, however it is still important to be cautious as it can lead to more serious problems. Another thing to remember about a cold is to not push through it and use your voice because you can cause further damage that can stay even after the sickness goes away.


The flu is similar to the cold, however, when you catch a cold, the symptoms will come on gradually while the flu symptoms will sometimes seem to appear out of thin air. Some flu symptoms are fever, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, and body aches. In addition to this, the flu can also cause a sore throat and a cough. One thing that the flu can do is cause you to want to clear your throat more often than is actually needed. This can lead to the vocal cords becoming irritated and this, in turn, can lead to injury. The flu can also leave the person feeling weaker which can inhibit them to work with their voice even after symptoms improve. It is important to take care of yourself if you have the flu, as it can lead to something more serious such as laryngitis.


The Mayo Clinic defines laryngitis as “an inflammation of your voice box (larynx) from overuse, irritation or infection.” In most cases, the symptoms of laryngitis will last for a couple of weeks and are caused by something like the cold or flu being left untreated. However, there is also chronic laryngitis which lasts for longer than 3 weeks. This is usually caused by the body being exposed to irritants over time and can cause vocal strain and injury to the vocal cords. These can be caused by, inhaling fumes, allergens or smoke, acid reflux, excessive alcohol use, vocal overuse, and smoking.

Symptoms of laryngitis include sore throat, low-grade fever, hoarse voice, difficulty speaking, cough, constant clearing of the throat, and in some cases swollen glands. If you have trouble breathing, cough up blood, or have a fever that won’t go away, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you seek medical attention immediately.

What To Do When You Get Sick

When you get sick and your voice or larynx has been affected, it is important that you get the rest that your body needs. If you overuse and misuse your voice, it will be hard for your body to recover fully and you will be sick or in pain for longer amounts of time. This is the best way to treat any sickness that is inhibiting your voice and ability to use it. However, there are some home remedies that are widely used to help ease the throat and speed up the recovery process.

Even though it may be painful at first, drinking plenty of fluids can help you feel better in the long run. It is tempting to avoid swallowing, but this will only make you worse by adding dehydration to the mix. Make sure you are not drinking alcohol or caffeine. Another thing to do is use a humidifier in the room you are resting in or visit a steam room. This is one way you can get some moisture to your throat without needing to swallow.

If the condition lasts for longer than a few weeks, you may want to consider visiting with your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and they will likely recommend a treatment plan for you.

Can You Avoid These Illnesses?

There are many different ways to avoid the illnesses that were mentioned above. To start with the cold, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that you;

  • Wash hands often with soap and water
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay away from people who are sick

To avoid the flu virus, the same things can be used to keep you healthy, however, you can better protect yourself making sure you and your family get a yearly flu shot.

If you want to prevent laryngitis, you’ll want to follow the advice given above for the less serious illnesses. In addition, excessive drinking and smoking can lead to chronic laryngitis so it is best to avoid both of those, as well as keeping yourself healthy.


When it comes to how sickness affects the voice there is a lot to know. One main thing is that many illnesses cause the same damage to the voice, however, if you just leave them and continue to use your voice, you are at risk for later health complications down the road. Be sure to check out one of our previous articles to learn about some Natural Remedies For A Sore Throat.