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Here’s Why You Lose Your Voice (And What To Do About It!)

Laryngitis, which many patients refer to as “losing” their voice, is a common condition that we often evaluate and treat here at GoHealth Urgent Care. The causes of this condition are varied, as are the treatment options.

Here’s what you should know about why you lose your voice, and what you should do about it.

1) It’s Almost Always a Virus.

If you experience laryngitis in addition to nasal congestion, a scratchy throat or a cough, you’re most likely suffering from a virus, which has caused inflammation in your vocal cords in addition to the other symptoms. Viral upper respiratory infections are far and away the most common cause of laryngitis, which should resolve on its own within one week.

2) Overuse It and You’ll (Probably) Lose It.

The second most common cause of laryngitis is vocal strain. If you yell at a sporting event, or trying to talk over people at a crowded restaurant, or sing too loud, you can cause increased friction of your vocal cords, which become hoarse due to the inflammation.

3) Alcohol and Tobacco Are Not Your Friends.

There are lots of reasons why alcohol and tobacco can be damaging to your health – including the fact that they can inflame your vocal cords and lead to acute or chronic laryngitis.  So avoiding smoke and excess amounts of alcohol is always a good idea. Your body (and your voice!) will thank you.

4) You Can Help Your Vocal Cords Heal.

If you’ve lost your voice due to a virus or vocal use, there are a few things you can do to get your voice back faster! First, you can practice what we call "vocal resting," which means you speak as little as possible and, if you do need to speak, you whisper instead of trying to talk at your normal volume. Second, drink plenty of fluids, since hydrating your vocal cords can soothe the inflammation and help them heal faster.

5) Know When to Seek Medical Attention.

Whether it’s from a virus or vocal overuse, laryngitis should resolve on its own within three weeks (though it often gets better faster!)

However, if it persists longer than three weeks, or if you have other acute symptoms including difficulty swallowing, severe pain or a fever, you should seek immediate medical attention. Because while most cases of laryngitis are benign, it can be a sign of a more significant problem, such as vocal nodes, throat cancer, acid reflux or an infection.

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