Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Lost Your Voice to Laryngitis?
What causes laryngitis? For the past week, my voice has been so weak that I can barely be heard. I haven’t had a cold recently.
Answer (Published 3/1/2007)

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the vocal cords, usually due to an infection, fatigue, or irritation. A cold or sore throat can lead to laryngitis. So can overuse of your voice - this is most common among singers and others who have to use their voices constantly - politicians, for example. In addition to illness or overuse, drinking alcohol and smoking can also both irritate the vocal cords and larynx - if so, laryngitis may be your body's way of telling you to cut back on drinking and to stop smoking. Another common cause is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backs up into the esophagus. Sometimes, acid can get into the back of the throat and irritate or even damage the surface tissue of the vocal cords.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

(Hoarseness or even voice loss can be symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Blood tests can begin to determine whether your thyroid is to blame. A rare cause of persistent hoarseness is laryngeal cancer.)

  • The most important thing you can do when you have laryngitis is rest your voice. Inhaling steam can help, as well, as can sucking on lozenges to soothe your throat. Drink plenty of fluids but avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are irritating and will only make matters worse. Try not to clear your throat - it can increase the swelling of the vocal cords.
  • If you have chronic hoarseness that you can't attribute to any of the common causes mentioned above, see your physician to get a proper diagnosis.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here