Loss of voice (also called aphonia) may take several different forms. You may 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 come on slowly or quickly depending on the cause.
Aphonia is different from aphasia, which is a language disorder.
Aphonia is usually due to problems with the voice box (called the larynx). However, there can be other causes, including:
Risk factors that increase your chance of developing aphonia include:
Symptoms may include:
Call your doctor if you:
Your doctor will ask 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 ear, nose, and throat doctor. This doctor may use an instrument called a laryngoscope to examine your vocal cords. Other tests may also be done to evaluate your voice function.
If your doctor is concerned that there may be a neurological or psychological cause, you may be referred to other specialists.
General measures that can help ease laryngitis include:
Other treatments depend on the specific cause, such as:
Take the following steps to help reduce your chance of getting aphonia:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists
Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists
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Last reviewed November 2012 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.