African American woman with a cold and sore throat drinks vitamins and measures body temperature.

Voice extinction: Understand, Prevent and React

Loss of voice, or aphonia, is a disorder that affects our ability to speak normally.

It is a condition commonly associated with throat damage or irritation, which can result from a variety of factors.

Such a condition can be very disturbing, not only to communicate, but also to carry out certain daily activities.

This article aims to explore in depth what causes loss of voice, how long it lasts, and the different steps you can take to treat or prevent it.

The etiology of voice loss

Understanding the origin of loss of voice is essential to prevent and treat this disorder.

Aphonia is usually attributed to factors such as vocal overexertion, respiratory infections, smoking, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. All of these can cause inflammation or damage to the vocal cords, thus impeding normal voice production.

  • Vocal overwork: People who use their voice a lot, such as singers, teachers, or radio hosts, are more likely to suffer from aphonia. Vocal overexertion can lead to excessive tension in the vocal cords, causing them to become inflamed.
  • Respiratory infections: Viral or bacterial infections, such as the common cold or flu, can cause laryngitis, an inflammation of the larynx that can lead to loss of voice.
  • Smoking: Cigarette smoke is particularly harmful to the vocal cords. It can cause chronic irritation and even permanent damage, leading to aphonia.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease: This digestive disorder can cause acid to rise from the stomach to the esophagus and larynx, causing irritation of the vocal cords and loss of voice.

Duration of voice extinction: significant variability

The duration of a loss of voice can vary greatly depending on the underlying cause.

Aphonia caused by vocal overstrain or a respiratory infection can last from a few hours to several days. In the case of viral laryngitis, the voice usually returns to normal within one to two weeks.

If the loss of voice is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease or smoking, recovery may take longer, especially if these factors are not treated.

What to do in case of loss of voice?

Knowing how to react to aphonia is crucial to speed up recovery and prevent possible complications.

  • Vocal rest: Rest is the first remedy in case of loss of voice. It is recommended to avoid talking or whispering, which could put even more strain on the vocal cords.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water helps keep the throat moist and reduce irritation. Hot drinks, such as honey tea, can also provide relief.
  • Air humidification: Keeping the surrounding air moist can help relieve a dry throat. This can be achieved using an air humidifier.
  • Medical consultation: If the loss of voice lasts more than two weeks, or if it is accompanied by pain, difficulty swallowing or any other worrying symptom, it is imperative to consult a doctor. He will be able to establish a precise diagnosis and propose an appropriate treatment.

Prevention of voice loss

Implementing certain preventive measures can go a long way towards reducing the risk of loss of voice.

It is essential to moderate the use of the voice, avoiding shouting or speaking too loudly, especially for long periods. Quitting smoking is also a crucial step in preventing aphonia. In addition, it is recommended to maintain good hydration and to treat any respiratory infection promptly. Finally, people with gastroesophageal reflux disease should seek to control this condition, as it can cause chronic irritation of the vocal cords.

  • Voice moderation: Voice professionals, such as singers and teachers, should consider working with a voice coach to learn how to use their voice in a healthier way.
  • Stopping smoking: Tobacco is one of the main aggressors of the vocal cords. Quitting smoking can greatly reduce the risk of aphonia.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps keep the vocal cords hydrated and flexible, reducing the risk of irritation.
  • Treatment of respiratory infections: It is important to treat any respiratory infection quickly to prevent it from reaching the larynx and irritating the vocal cords.
  • Management of gastroesophageal reflux disease: People with this condition should seek to control it, such as by changing their diet or taking medication prescribed by a doctor.

Loss of voice, although generally mild, can be a frustrating and disabling condition. By understanding the causes of this condition, knowing how long aphonia lasts, and knowing how to respond to this condition, you will be better equipped to prevent and treat it effectively.

Remember that if your loss of voice persists or is accompanied by worrying symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare professional.