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What is Aphonia, Causes of Aphonia and treatment

Aphonia

  • Posted on- May 01, 2018
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Aphonia

Aphonia is a condition that can take many different forms. You can have a partial loss of your voice and it may sound hoarse or, you may have complete loss of your voice and it may sound like a whisper. Loss of voice can take place slowly or quickly depending on the cause.

Causes of Aphonia

Aphonia generally happenes due to the problems with the voice box (called the larynx). However, there can be other causes, including:

Conditions that affect the vocal cords or airway, this may include injury, swelling, or disease, like:

  • Laryngitis that is caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
  • Vocal abuse—yelling or talking excessively
  • Exposure to airborne irritants, like smoke or air pollution
  • Acid reflux from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Thickening of the vocal chords
  • Nodules or polyps on the vocal chords
  • Muscle tension dysphonia
  • Damage to the nerves that affect how the larynx functions
  • Laryngeal or thyroid cancer
  • Removal of larynx
  • Breathing problems that affect the ability to speak
  • Neurological disorders such as myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Risk Factors associated with Aphonia

Factors that may increase one’s chance of developing aphonia include:

  • Overusing your voice like speaking until you are hoarse
  • Behaviors that abuse your vocal chords, such as smoking, which also puts you at a higher risk for cancer of the larynx
  • If you are having surgery on or around the larynx

Diagnosis of Aphonia


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

The cause of your symptoms may not be obvious. You may be referred to an ENT specialist. This doctor may use an instrument called a laryngoscope to check your vocal cords. Other tests may also be done to evaluate your voice function.

If your doctor is having some of the concerns that there may be a neurological or psychological cause, then you can be referred to other specialists.

Prevention of Aphonia

To help reduce your chance of aphonia:

  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit
  • If you drink, limit your intake
  • Limit your exposure to fumes and toxins
  • Avoid talking a lot or yelling
  • Avoid whispering
  • Get the treatment done for conditions that can cause loss of voice


Symptoms

Symptoms of Aphonia

Symptoms of aphonia may include:

  • Unable to speak or unable to speak above a whisper
  • Hoarseness
  • Spasm of vocal cords
  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing—food or fluids may go into the lungs


Treatment

Treatment of Aphonia

You can take the following steps to help ease laryngitis:

  • Rest your voice
  • Avoid smoking
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use a cool mist humidifier
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen

Some of the other treatments depend on the specific cause, such as:

  • Going through voice therapy if your loss of voice is due to voice overuse
  • Having medication to control acid reflux
  • Performing surgery to extract growths

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