As any rock star, politician or teacher knows, it's difficult to do your job if you've lost your voice. Laryngologist Dr. Steve Zeitels of Harvard Medical School talks with Dr. Oz about his work in repairing the vocal problems of famous singers and offers advice for common vocal ailments.
Dr. Zeitels says if more people went to an ear, nose and throat doctor at the first sign of vocal discomfort, doctors could catch cancer and other serious vocal problems people face. "People don't come in early because, one, it doesn't hurt, and, two, it waxes and wanes in severity," he says. "[Also], it doesn't bleed, and there is a fairly substantial phobia of having throat cancer."
If your voice has been consistently hoarse for three weeks or people who don't know you ask if you are sick because of the way your voice sounds, Dr. Zeitels says you should get an exam. Here are two common vocal problems Dr. Zeitels says people face:
Laryngeal reflux: When you cough or clear your throat in the morning after drinking coffee, you may be experiencing laryngeal reflux. "The membranes up in the throat area secrete mucus membranes to dilute [the reflux]," he says. "It gets substantially worse when someone gets even a routine respiratory tract infection."
Dehydration/dryness: This is especially a problem in the winter when you spend time in dry, heated areas and dry, cold weather. Dr. Zeitels says this type of dehydration is often characterized by waking up with a dry mouth. "Get a humidifier, and keep it clean … but you really want to keep [the humidifier] going," he says.