It’s normal to have voice issues during or after a respiratory condition like a cold or the flu. You might even find your voice gone after your enthusiastic participation at a concert or sporting event. However, these vocal disturbances are temporary, clearing up in a week or two, and it may be years before it happens again.
When voice loss occurs often, it’s probably due to something other than an infection or occasional vocal cord strain.
It’s easier, though, to say what it isn’t rather than what it is. That’s why you need a visit to the head and neck specialists at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates to fully understand why you have voice loss and to discover the best ways to treat your condition.
Dysphonia or laryngitis?
In common use, people tend to describe losing their voice as laryngitis, which is something of a catch-all term for dramatic changes to your voice. Voice changes are also described medically as dysphonia, typically a breathy or hoarse voice.
When you’re having difficulty speaking, it might not matter what it’s called. You’re more concerned with what’s causing the problem and, even more, how to recover. There could be a wide range of problems causing chronic voice loss. The first step is diagnosis.
Causes of voice loss
One of the first questions our voice experts might ask you is what you do for a living. If you’re a teacher, singer, call center employee, or you’re in a job where you’re using your voice for long hours, day after day, you may be suffering from repetitive strain of the vocal cords.
Your customer service voice could be in a register that’s different from your normal speaking voice, leading to fatigue, injury, or strain.
Other potential causes of chronic or recurrent voice loss include:
You might not think of allergies as a voice issue until you recall how postnasal drip can stir up trouble in your throat. Mucus can irritate your vocal cords, and the effects could be compounded by the drying effects of antihistamine medications.
The backwash of stomach acids that causes heartburn can also irritate the vocal cords and interfere with your voice.
Another condition that many won’t associate with voice loss, rheumatoid arthritis is an immune system disorder that can strike joints in your face and throat, resulting in changes to your breathing and vocal cord function.
Cysts, nodules, and polyps
It’s thought that overuse or misuse of the voice causes non-cancerous growths on the vocal cords. Nodules or nodes are akin to calluses that can vanish with rest. Fluid-filled cysts and polyps may require surgery to clear up the problem.
Several thyroid conditions can impact your voice, chemically in the case of hypothyroidism and physically when the thyroid enlarges, called goiter.
Cigarette smoke irritates the vocal cords and raises the risk of polyp development and other voice disorders.
Get to the bottom of your voice loss issue with a visit to Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence and Ottawa. Schedule your consultation by calling the nearest office today.