Common cold and flu
One of the most common sign of an impending sore throat or flu is the change of voice. Sore throat and common flu are the most common causes for hoarseness and lost voice due to the inflammation in the throat and voice box. An accompanying cough and blocked nose can also aggravate the problem. The good news is, the quality of one’s voice usually gets better upon recovery from the illness and sufficient vocal rest.
Misuse of voice
Shouting, loud cheering, long period of singing and excessive talking are some examples of misusing of voice. The misuse of the voice is a common trigger for lost voice and hoarseness. They cause trauma and inflammation to the vocal cord, resulting in hoarse, rough and raspy quality of voice. However, the normal quality of voice usually returns after adequate resting and hydrating of voice.
Vocal cord paralysis
Vocal cord paralysis occurs when the nerve impulses to your voice box (larynx) are disrupted, resulting in paralysis of the vocal cord muscles. Vocal cord paralysis can be caused by trauma, certain surgeries, a stroke, tumours, viral infections, and neurological conditions. The condition causes symptoms such as sudden breathy quality to voice, noisy breathing loss of vocal pitch, inability to speak loudly. Other signs can include choking or coughing while eating or drinking, the frequent need to take breaths while speaking, loss of your gag reflex, and ineffective coughing or constant throat clearing. Treatment involves a combination of surgery and speech therapy.
Vocal cord lesion
Vocal cord lesions are non-cancerous growths that include cysts, nodules and polyps that grow on vocal cords and affect the voice. These growths are common with people who use their voice intensively (such as singers or teachers). Using the voice intensively causes the tissues in the vocal cords to thicken. When the thickened tissue localises, it produces a nodule or polyp. Treatment method include voice therapy to help patients with nodules to maximize their vocal efficiency and function, while surgery may be needed to remove polyps and cysts.
Cancer in the throat and larynx
A persistent hoarse voice that last more than two to four weeks after recovery from cold or sore throat and much rest, requires medical attention. This is important because a persistent change in voice is one of the first and most important symptoms of throat and larynx cancer. Other symptoms include chronic cough, pain in the throat, trouble swallowing, unexplained earache and lump in the throat that don’t go away. The early detection of cancer in the throat and larynx is important as it can be effectively treated and chances of recovery is high. Since smokers are at higher risk of throat cancer, they should be more vigilant about noticing the change in their voice.