by Mary Cresse
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 than 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:
Call for medical help right away or go to the emergency room if you: .
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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 a 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
Last Updated: 11/26/2012