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Losing Your Voice

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 8 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Laryngitis Voice Voice Box Vocal Chords

Sore throats are common and for most people their voice remains unchanged whilst others find it develops a slight harshness or sounds croaky; these are normal and most often your larynx (or voice box) remains predominantly unaffected.

Why Do We Lose Our Voice?

When you lose your voice it will probably start as a rasp or croak that deteriorates into a whisper. This may be accompanied by a sore throat though this is not always the case; some people find their voice has disappeared without ever suffering from any soreness in the throat beforehand.

Losing your voice is most often a symptom of laryngitis which means the area of your throat called the larynx has become inflamed. The larynx, otherwise known as the voice box, contains the vocal folds (or chords) which vibrate when the air in the lungs is forced through them by the diaphragm when we exhale.

During normal speech and sound, the folds vibrate to varying degrees to give us sound, when the tissues are inflamed or have an infection, they are less able to do this and the air is simply pushed through without causing any vibration.

Very rarely, losing your voice is a symptom of a more serious condition such as a tumour in the lung or airway or because of deep psychological or emotional reasons.

Losing your voice totally is very rare and even the ability to clear the throat or cough shows that there is some degree of function there as these are classed as sounds.

If your vocal ability does not improve after a few weeks, please see your GP to rule out any serious or underlying medical complaints.

What Can We Do To Prevent It?

Sometimes you can do nothing to prevent losing your voice. Simply exchange of saliva such as from someone’s sneeze, cough or speech can be enough to transmit enough germs to transmit the infection.

It may be possible to lessen the chances of getting an infection such as avoiding those with existing sore throats, coughs and colds, making sure you are well rested and generally healthy which should help keep your immune system well prepared and ready to fight infections and germs. This can be further enhanced by making sure you manage your anger, stress and emotional issues well helping to prevent you from becoming run down and more susceptible to infections.

How Do We Treat It?

A lost voice will return in its own time and when it is able. The best action to take is to rest, drink plenty of fluids and try and talk as little as possible in order to give the tissues time to rest and heal. If you place undue stress on the vocal chords such as by singing or talking when they are not fully healthy, the chances are you will prolong the hoarseness or loss and may affect your vocal ability long term; bad news for professional singers.

Sore throats are very common, rarely serious and will usually resolve themselves with a little care and attention. There may be some measures that can protect your voice from damage but not all occurrences may be prevented.

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[Add a Comment]
For the past 3 years I been losing my voice.I was never sick no throat infections nothing just gradually turning into a very low whisper.. So low people can't hear me talk.. I visited top ENT doc's they tell me everything is healthy and not sure what is causing me to whisper. Now here comes the funny part about my condition.... I can sing without a problem,I can impersonate other people which comes out very clear and loud I had ECT treatment that didn't help.. so now I have to live my life like this,not easy at 51 :( Any advice people
Geordie - 8-Jun-17 @ 4:06 PM
I have had a bad throats and lost my voice twice now in the space of three monthsI was wondering why it keeps happening
Annie - 23-May-17 @ 6:01 PM
Emily - Your Question:
Hi I've been loosing my voice on and off for the past 4 weeks, I've had a bad cough, and trying to clear my throat a lot, when I do loose it, my throat is quite sore, can I have some advice please

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot make an online personal diagnosis. You would have to visit your GP regarding this.
ThroatProblems - 3-Apr-17 @ 9:54 AM
Hi I've been loosing my voice on and off for the past 4 weeks, I've had a bad cough, and trying to clear my throat a lot, when i do loose it, my throat is quite sore, can I have some advice please
Emily - 2-Apr-17 @ 12:33 AM
When I talk for a while doing the day or night like in meetings or just out with friends or family my voice starts to become very husky to the point where I think I need to shout to get heard bit the next couple days it seems to be OK until I start having long chats again
Paul - 21-Jan-17 @ 11:33 AM
Chapped - Your Question:
Keep losing my voice its been going on for three weeks !!!! I get It quite often , feel drained no energy.

Our Response:
If you are feeling ill and the situation is not abating, you need to visit your GP.
ThroatProblems - 11-Jan-17 @ 10:32 AM
Keep losing my voice its been going on for three weeks !!!! I get It quite often , feel drained no energy .
Chapped - 10-Jan-17 @ 10:20 AM
Hey everyone. I have a naturally husky voice and loose my voice all the time. I can't sing along at festivals or talk in clubs because it will go straight away. Not entirely but pretty bad. Is this something I should be worried about?
Elise - 26-Aug-16 @ 10:13 PM
birdie - Your Question:
I was diagnosed with laryngitis in January 2015 after totally losing my voice but it is now over 1 year later and it hasn't returned. I have had a laryngorscopy and nothing is physically wrong with my larynx. I have been now told that it is due to stress and I should have psychotherapy. I have had to leave my job as it involved constant talking and have been living on my savings ever since. My voice loss has totally destroyed my life as no one can hear me and I am now totally isolated. I am desperate for some help

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. Of course there are many reasons why a person may lose their voice, including; chronic laryngitis, the likes of functional dysphonia and other stress releated reasons. Unfortunately, we cannot offer any medical advice, only practical. The British Voice Association can help support people with vocal problems by providing information and advice through the'Ask the BVA' service, information leaflets and online directory of voice clinics in the UK. Please see link here. I hope your voice finds its way back to you soon.
ThroatProblems - 12-Feb-16 @ 12:54 PM
I was diagnosed with laryngitis in January 2015 after totally losing my voice but it is now over 1 year later and it hasn't returned. I have had a laryngorscopy and nothing is physically wrong with my larynx. I have been now told that it is due to stress and I should have psychotherapy. I have had to leave my job as it involved constant talking and have been living on my savings ever since. My voice loss has totally destroyed my life as no one can hear me and I am now totally isolated. I am desperate for some help
birdie - 11-Feb-16 @ 8:11 PM
dono - Your Question:
I had a bad throat starting at christmas 2015.my g.p. gave me antibiotics did not work saw him againand an appt. was made for an m.r.i.then hospital for three days.Carrying out x-rays ultra sound deep throat with camera up nose as well plus a biopsy.released from hospital back again one week later for results.saw the consultant who did the surgical procedure.Problem was a naughty ulcer.The healing process goes on with an appt in one months time.Thank God it wasnt the BIG C.I hope this info is usefull.Thank you St. Anthony saint o f miracles.

Our Response:
Many thanks for your comments. We are glad you are getting better and hope your health continues to improve.
ThroatProblems - 11-Feb-16 @ 11:17 AM
I had a bad throat starting at christmas 2015.my g.p. gave me antibiotics did not work saw him againand an appt. was made for an m.r.i.then hospital for three days.Carrying out x-rays ultra sound deep throat with camera up nose as well plus a biopsy.released from hospital back again one week later for results.saw the consultant who did the surgical procedure.Problem was a naughty ulcer.The healing process goes on with an appt in one months time.Thank God it wasnt the BIG C.I hope this info is usefull.Thank you St. Anthony saint o f miracles.
dono - 10-Feb-16 @ 6:42 PM
Kaz - Your Question:
I've lost my voice for over a week. Also a dry cough that makes me wretch and has made me sick once. I've gargled, took pain killers, cough sweets etc. Now I'm seem to be slowing down, feel weak and can't be bothered to do any thing which isn't me. I have no tonscills and don't really want to bother my GP. Any ideas what to do next

Our Response:
Bother your GP. Seriously, if you are not feeling good, then your GP is your best option, especially if you have felt unwell for over a week.
ThroatProblems - 5-Feb-16 @ 11:33 AM
Ive lost my voice for other a week now, have a dry cough which sometimes makes me wretch, and once I was sick. I've taken throat tablets, gargled pain killers etc. I feel as if I'm slowing down and can't be bothered to do any thing, which isn't me. I don't want to bother my GP, what next?
Kaz - 4-Feb-16 @ 4:32 PM
I've lost my voice for over a week. Also a dry cough that makes me wretch and has made me sick once. I've gargled, took pain killers, cough sweets etc. Now I'm seem to be slowing down, feel weak and can't be bothered to do any thing which isn't me. I have no tonscills and don't really want to bother my GP. Any ideas what to do next
Kaz - 4-Feb-16 @ 4:28 PM
I keep losing my voice, 12 times or more in a year. This has been going on for the last 4 years. Why??
Loll - 26-Jan-16 @ 3:32 AM
Janey - Your Question:
I've been losing my voice for about 3 months.it goes then 2 days later it's back then it goes again and I don't even have a sore throat what should I do?

Our Response:
You need to visit your GP for any condition that display chronic symptoms.
ThroatProblems - 22-Jan-16 @ 2:04 PM
I've been losing my voice for about 3 months...it goes then 2 days later it's back then it goes again and I don't even have a sore throat what should I do?
Janey - 22-Jan-16 @ 12:12 AM
Becky - Your Question:
Hello, I've lost my voice for the past 3 days having my voice sound very upset when I talk. I am able to make a clearing of my throat sound well however my glands are not swelled and I have not got a sore throat. I'm not sure what I can do about it? Or whether I should see a gp. I sing often at college so it's important for me to regain my voice as soon as possible but I haven't used my voice any more or less than usual or pushed it too far.

Our Response:
You should visit your GP if you are having problems with your voice and you cannot ascertain an obvious reason. I hope you get better soon.
ThroatProblems - 18-Jan-16 @ 12:01 PM
Hello, I've lost my voice for the past 3 days having my voice sound very upset when I talk. I am able to make a clearing of my throat sound well however my glands are not swelled and I have not got a sore throat. I'm not sure what I can do about it? Or whether I should see a gp. I sing often at college so it's important for me to regain my voice as soon as possible but I haven't used my voice any more or less than usual or pushed it too far.
Becky - 17-Jan-16 @ 3:01 PM
ginny- Your Question:
Hi. I am 52 years old and have been having problems with my voice for the past 3 weeks. I had a cold and that was when my voice became hoarse and eventually I am not able to use it. the problem is I work in a call center and the bank I work for does not except doctors notes and does not want to give you time off. I have read that if you keep trying to use your voice, it can cause polyps to form. is that true and what can I do to prevent that

Our Response:
It sounds as though you may be from the US and I'm afraid we can only advise on UK-based workplace law. However, polyps are usually caused by long term vocal abuse, rather than short term.
ThroatProblems - 21-Sep-15 @ 2:30 PM
hi. i am 52 years old and have been having problems with my voice for the past 3 weeks. i had a cold and that was when my voice became hoarse and eventually i am not able to use it. the problem is i work in a call center and the bank i work for does not except doctors notes and does not want to give you time off. i have read that if you keep trying to use your voice, it can cause polyps to form. is that true and what can i do to prevent that
ginny - 20-Sep-15 @ 8:43 PM
amazballs13579 - Your Question:
HeyI've got a very sore throat and head. Its been going on for a couple of weeks now and its starting to hurt my ears and I'm not sure if I'm losing my voice or not is. I don't know what to do cause I have to whisper and I'm 13 years old

Our Response:
You really should make an appointment to see your GP, especially if it has been lingering for a few weeks. I should ask your parents to do this for you, as your doctor should be able to give you some medication to put it right.
ThroatProblems - 26-Aug-15 @ 10:24 AM
Hey I've got a very sore throat and head. Its been going on for a couple of weeks now and its starting to hurt my ears and I'm not sure if I'm losing my voice or not is. I don't know what to do cause I have to whisper and I'm 13 years old
amazballs13579 - 25-Aug-15 @ 7:33 AM
@kk - if you haven't already, you need to visit your GP, who will be able to diagnose your problem.
ThroatProblems - 10-Jul-15 @ 11:47 AM
I have been losing my voice on and off for three weeks now, i am in thé middle of a sentence and then my voice dissapears and i keep taking off Days from Work as i need my voice.
kk - 8-Jul-15 @ 8:17 AM
@Daisy - I am sorry, we can't give a medical diagnosis as we are not qualified. However, you are doing the right thing by going through your GP, who can refer you to a consultant specialist. I hope you manage to resolve this, as it must be very frustrating.
ThroatProblems - 20-Apr-15 @ 2:34 PM
Hi I don't know what's wrong with my voice, I lost it last year for 6 months and now I lose it nearly everyday, I had a camera down my throat but they said they didn't find anything but it's still on going, the doctor thinks I'm afraid to use my voice but I know that's definatley not the case. I'm a gymnast and often I stop breathing and cannot speak at all, why? What's wrong with my throat ?
Daisy - 18-Apr-15 @ 10:52 AM
can child breath holding cause adult sleep apnea
hamshank - 20-Mar-15 @ 5:43 PM
@Donna - We can't give advice on medical issues. However, I should go to your GP and get this checked out as soon as you can.
ThroatProblems - 18-Mar-15 @ 1:46 PM
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