Post-Covid Syndrome and your voice

Karen Wilkinson

  • Reference Number: HEY-1309/2022
  • Departments: ENT, Speech and Language
  • Last Updated: 1 October 2022

Introduction

This leaflet has been produced to give you general information on your problem and how it can be treated. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and your doctor or Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). If after reading it you have any concerns or questions, please talk to a member of the healthcare team.

Covid-19 and Post-Covid Syndrome

Covid-19 is a virus which can affect people in different ways. Some people experience mild symptoms however other people are very unwell.

If someone has symptoms 12 weeks after the infection, this may be called Post-Covid Syndrome or Long Covid.

Post-Covid Syndrome can occur after any severity of infection.

People with Post-Covid Syndrome may have problems with their voice.

Covid-19 and Voice Problems

Some people may have problems with their voice after having Covid-19, such as:

  • Your voice may tire quickly.
  • You may feel breathless when speaking.
  • Your voice may sound hoarse (dysphonia).
  • The pitch of your voice may sound different. 

There are many reasons why Covid-19 can cause voice problems, including:

  • Trauma, if you were intubated in hospital.
  • Persistent breathing problems.
  • A persistent cough can cause inflammation in your voice box (larynx).

Your voice muscles may have learnt new habits of working.

  • Stress or anxiety.
  • Tiredness
  • Something else! We are still learning about how Covid-19 impacts the voice.

How To Help Your Voice During Post-Covid Syndrome Recovery

Rest

  • You may feel very tired and experience ‘boom and bust’ energy cycles.
  • Pace yourself, and rest if you feel tired
  • Have periods of voice rest
  • When you do speak, use your voice normally
  • Avoid whispering, as this strains your voice
  • Avoid throat clearing

Hydration 

Being well hydrated can act as a barrier between your tissue and the aggravating irritants. Not only that but it can give you better vocal quality, endurance and stamina! 

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day unless advised otherwise by a doctor – see what you may need on a hydration calculator
  • Drink less caffeine and alcohol
  • Use saline nasal rinse or spray every day. This clears the irritants that may sit in the nose
  • Inhale steam or cool mist 0.9% saline nebs
  • Avoid medicated throat sweets, as they may dry your throat

Healthy lifestyle 

A healthy lifestyle will help your body in its recovery from Covid-19. 

  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly, particularly if you are overweight
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet 
  • Avoid foods that trigger reflux. These may be spicy or contain lots of dairy or fat
  • Open windows to increase ventilation
  • Avoid clearing your throat. Try drinking some water instead

Mental health

Your voice can be affected by emotions and stress.

  • Speak to someone about how you are feeling
  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, access support through your GP or mental health charities 

If you are unsure about the above advice, please ask your GP, ENT Consultant or SLT (contact telephone for speech therapy: 01482 604331).

Further Support and Information

There are many resources for further help and support, for example: 

NHS stop smoking services

  • Smokefree national helpline (free): 0300 123 1044

 

Heartburn and acid reflux support 

 

Mental health support 

 

Post-Covid Syndrome support 

This leaflet was produced by the Speech and Language Therapy Department and ENT Department, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and will be reviewed in July 2023.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats you, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to you. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your condition, the alternatives available to you, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about you

We collect and use your information to provide you with care and treatment. As part of your care, information about you will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide you with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your doctor, or the person caring for you.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about you. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you or your carer needs information about your health and wellbeing and about your care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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