There are several reasons a person may lose his or her voice. Loss of voice, or aphonia, is usually due to an issue with the larynx, or voice box. The voice box includes the vocal cords and epiglottis.

Vocal loss may be partial, where you voice sounds hoarse, or nearly complete, where you can only speak in a whisper. Loss of voice can be caused by an illness, such as laryngitis, vocal cord overuse from too much talking or singing, acid reflux, growths on the vocal cords, nerve damage, breathing in contaminants such as pollution or smoke, cancer, or psychological conditions.

If you’ve lost the ability to speak after a head injury or have trouble breathing, you should go to the emergency room immediately. Similarly, if you are experiencing other signs of a stroke.

If vocal difficulty comes on more gradually, it is best to see your ear, nose, and throat doctor. Your Orlando ENT specialist will do a physical exam to try and figure out what is wrong with your voice box. This may include using a laryngoscope to look at the vocal cords.

Treatment for aphonia includes resting your vocal cords, drinking lots of water, stopping smoking, voice therapy, and surgery, depending on the issue.

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