Voice Difficulties

Since having COVID19 in March 2020, I have had ongoing issues with my speech, these issues are the subject of this blog post.

During my acute bout of COVID19 I had the sensation of having breathed in smoke similar to when standing too close to a BBQ. My throat felt dry and I could almost taste smoke. I have ‘spoken’ to a few other longhaulers who had the same sensation/experience and who are also having ongoing voice issues. I had absolutely no idea if this smoke sensation was linked to where I am right now with my voice/vocal cords issue but I wanted to find out!

What’s wrong?

My voice sounds as if my vocal cords have been roughened with sandpaper, it’s not ‘husky’ or ‘rasping’, I literally sound like I am croaking. Sometimes it can sound very squeaky and whistle-like but that’s rare. It’s not present all of the time, it worsens on exertion. By ‘on exertion’ I don’t mean talking too much, I can be fairly silent all day and still have a croaky voice if I have done too much of any kind of exertion (the usual – physical, mental/ emotional). I wouldn’t say it is painful but it is uncomfortable to talk. My vocal cords FEEL as if they are stretched extra taut and they FEEL as if they could snap (I KNOW they won’t though).

The videos below were both recorded on the same day (11 March 2022).

MORNING – This is what I USUALLY like


LATE AFTERNOON- This is after exertion.


In response to the second video a few people with M.E commented that their voice sounds exactly the same after exertion but they hadn’t had COVID19.

I get really croaky too when I over do it. Thanks for sharing, since I’m home most my time I didn’t realize that other people experience it too

I get this all the time. I have it right now in fact. I’ve never had covid but I do have M.E. only difference is mine hurts to talk, and my throat hurts. It comes and goes. Tends to be worse when I flare 💜

Since contracting COVID19 and becoming a longhauler, I have found it very difficult to work out what symptoms are additional M.E symptoms that I didn’t have before and which are not M.E-related. Historically, when I hear PwME discussing voice issues I hear a huskiness that doesn’t match my croaks. I hadn’t heard any other PwME speaking and sounding like me. I now know that’s because very few PwME record videos of themselves talking to camera and those that do don’t have the same voice issue as me! I’m glad I recorded the video and asked the question because it’s helped to solve a bit of my COVID19 aftershock puzzle. My voice issue IS an M.E issue, it’s ‘just’ one I didn’t have during my first 15 years of living with M.E before catching COVID19.

I was referred to ENT by my GP after having voice difficulties for over 18 months. The ENT consultant spent 20 seconds checking my vocal cords for nodules/damage with a camera that went up my nose and down my throat. ‘No damage or nodules’, there is nothing I can do other than refer you to Speech and Language Therapy’. In the same appointment I was told I have Eustachian Tube inflammation…that’s a whole other blog!

My referral came through this week and I’m going to attend with an open mind. I am a bit dubious that anything can be done to counteract PEM and muscle fatigue (I’m assuming that’s what is causing the issue) but I will give it a go. I cannot be a frustrated wannabe chatterbox who sounds like Kermit the Frog!!

The referral letter included a guidance pamphlet (Solent NHS – Giving Voice)

Some of the advice is below (in case any readers are trying unsuccessfully to get a referral to Speech and Language Therapy and could do with some advice)

  • NEVER WHISPER to ‘save’ your voice – it adds more strain to your vocal cords.
  • NEVER TRY TO SPEAK THROUGH PAIN, SORENESS, or DISCOMFORT in your throat. Pain is there to warn you that you are doing damage.
  • If your voice is painful, rest it.
  • Avoid coughing or throat clearing. This causes the edges of vocal cords to collide harshly and cause more soreness. Try swallowing or drinking water where possible.
  • If you find yourself having to raise your voice to attract attention, try clapping, whistles etc instead.
  • Gargles and throat pastilles are sometimes useful for temporary relief but not if they dull the pain so that you don’t feel pain.

Hope that helps some of you! Referrals are elusive beasts…I know that all too well.

Now, in May 2022, I would say that I hold a lot of my CONSTANT M.E/Long Covid from my collarbone UP.

  • Tender collarbone/glands
  • Neck muscle pain
  • C5/C6/C7 ‘degenerative spine’ issues – pain/discomfort (had an MRI recently)
  • Swollen and painful glands
  • Vocal cord discomfort
  • Painful mouth blisters/lesions
  • Painful jaw bone
  • Eustachian Tube discomfort
  • Ear pain
  • Eye discomfort
  • Sinus pain
  • Cluster migraines
  • M.E ‘headaches’

The human head is such a sensitive area isn’t it? So many ‘faults’ in a small area make it pretty tough to take most days…and now I can’t even moan about it without croaking! Ribbit! Obviously, I’ll let you all know how I get on at the Speech and Language Therapist and whether I find it beneficial. Stay tuned!

Love Sally

and Foggy (OBVIOUSLY)


Don’t forget! ‘Foggy’s A to Z Adventures Around The UK’ has been running for around 6 weeks now. He’s in the Isle of Man at the moment and his next adventure will be tagging along with the Jubilee Pageant!! Exciting times for Foggy! This campaign is to raise funds for Cure ME for biomedical research. Please donate today – https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/foggyatoz Thank you.

Here he is in the Isle of Man. Foggy didn’t know that an entire beach would be covered in shells!!