What Really Happens When You Lose Your Voice

Have you ever woken up to realize your normally strong voice is a hoarse whisper? Losing your voice is a strange occurrence that can be incredibly inconvenient. Here's how to explain your sudden inability to communicate.

According to voice care specialist Claudio Milstein, PhD., losing your voice is a symptom of many different conditions (via Cleveland Clinic). Some of these conditions include upper respiratory infections like colds, bronchitis, or laryngitis. These health issues often inflame the vocal cords. This changes the way air passes through the area and can distort your voice, making it sound quiet and hoarse.

Allergies can sometimes create a similar effect in your throat as upper respiratory infections. Along with watery eyes and sneezing, a bad allergic reaction may cause your vocal cords to swell and distort your voice as well (via WebMD). Allergies may also create postnasal drip, which causes mucus to drip from your nose down your throat. This can irritate your vocal cords and make you lose your voice.

You can lose your voice without getting sick

Just like you can strain a muscle when working out too hard, your vocal cords can be strained from overuse. People who rely on their voices for professional work, like singers and actors, are at a higher risk of losing their voices due to inflamed vocal cords than those who use this part of the body less frequently. Other job professions in this category include teachers, lawyers, and salespeople (via Houston Methodist).

You can even lose your voice after a short period of excessive use. You may notice that your voice is a little hoarse after a sporting event or concert. This is because your vocal cords are slightly inflamed from yelling.

What's the fastest way to get your voice back? The most important thing to do is let your vocal cords rest (via Cleveland Clinic). Speak as little as possible for the next few days until your normal voice starts to come back. You should also drink plenty of water and use a humidifier indoors to make sure your throat doesn't dry out. Finally, you can turn to anti-inflammatory medications to bring down the swelling in your vocal cords and help them heal more quickly.