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My Voice is Getting Raspy

Dr. Jahn explores solutions to autumn-winter raspiness.

Dear Doctor Jahn,

I sing a lot and take voice lessons and have zero problems – except that my voice gets raspy this time of year (autumn-winter). In the past prednisone tablets have helped with this. Can I take these before the problem starts or do you have any other suggestions for my ‘rasp’?


Dear B.,

Autumn – winter raspiness may have several causes- let me propose a few, and you decide which one might fit your situation.

Fall and winter allergies, usually to mold, often begin when the leaves fall and start to disintegrate.

Increased rain and dampness can worsen this, especially if you spend time outdoors.

Spending time indoors can worsen dust allergies, so I would consider allergies as the first suspect.

Speaking of indoor living, the air also becomes more dry once the heat is on; lack of humidity can not only facilitate the free passage of dust, animal dander and pollen through the air, but can dry the vocal folds and make singing more difficult.

I would also look at your professional and social schedule- do you work more in the fall and winter, making greater demands on your voice?

Are you singing more auditions, or playing more gigs around holiday time?

If your problem turns out to be allergies, I would take an antihistamine for one or two months.

I have on occasion given patients with severe but limited (i.e. 1 or 2 months) allergies a shot of cortisone.

While cortisone should not be used frivolously, it has the advantages of slow release.

40 mg of Depomedrol as an intramuscular injection can work for several weeks, no dryness, and simplicity of administration – no need to take pills daily.

If your raspiness persists beyond the usual couple of months, have your larynx examined.

One concern is that you might develop some compensatory moves (pushing, straining, etc.) to overcome the hoarseness, and over time, the compensation might become a problem.

-Anthony F. Jahn, MD

Dr. Jahn welcomes your questions. You can send these to editor@voicecouncil.com

This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.

  • Thomas B Smith

    Hey B. I’ll trade you! I’d love to add some raspiness to my voice (that I could control).


  • Barrywomb

    Hey thanks, I missed the reply to my question somehow- just happened to check today. I wasn’t wanting to do the dreaded “shot”. I was speaking more of a short regimen of pills where there’s a somewhat high dose that tapers off over the course of a week. I’ve done it before in years past when I had similar problems and it seemed okay. However, the stuff does have side effects (weight gain, hair funkiness or loss), so I wanted to know what your thoughts were on it.

    Thomas- I CAN make my voice raspy without problem. It’s when it’s raspy at the wrong times. I notice that stress can do this to me as well. My chords are fine, I’ve been checked out. I take voice lessons too. I DO have acid reflux, but am on meds for it. I also use a humidifier in the winter months when I have gigs.

    Just not sure how to keep this from happening. It’s weird to in that, I can sing for hours a night and this will be a problem at a point in the night, and then be fine later in the show. Yeah, I know… strange.