A night out and other reasons why you lose your voice
The voice is one of the greater communication tools of people, it even influences the image that others have of others. It is, in short, a letter of introduction. But how many times after trying to talk to friends in a party room with loud music have we woken up the next day hoarse? Or how many times has the reason been a cold? Or even, on how many occasions has the reason been stress or nerves that have left us without a voice?
April 16 marks World Voice Daya precious asset that is usually not offered all the care it needs and that, sometimes, its partial or total loss can be indicative of a more serious health problem.
First of all, we must distinguish between a dysphonia and one aphonia. Both are related to inflammation or infection of the vocal cords. But while dysphonia is what is colloquially known as hoarsenessaphonia is loss of voice. Be that as it may, otorhinolaryngologists recommend going to the consultation if this voice alteration, as well as throat clearing, a persistent cough or the need to strain your voice without having a cold, lasts more than fifteen days, even seven in the case of people who smoke or who, due to their work, put excessive strain on their vocal cords.
The most common conditions
The most common voice problems are caused by upper respiratory tract infections, pharyngolaryngitis or laryngitis, even gastroesophageal pathologies such as reflux. Then there are the directly related to the misuse of the voicesuch as speaking too loudly or inappropriately, and the overuse of voice It is mainly suffered by those people who, due to their work, are constantly talking, such as teachers, coaches, actors, singers, radio hosts or lecturers, to name a few examples. And, as Dr. Juan Carlos Casado, member of the Voice and Phoniatrics Commission of the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (SEORL-CCC), points out, “the larynx is not prepared to speak for more than 50 minutes straight.
Among the most common causes that can cause alterations in the larynx and consequent dysphonia or hoarseness are polyps and the nodules. The Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology defines the first as “benign pseudotumors, similar to blisters, that appear after an inflammatory process.” In these cases, surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, although speech therapy is performed first and after the intervention the patient has to go at least four days without speaking.
For their part, the nodules They are benign (non-cancerous) growths, usually on both vocal cords, very similar to a callus, that grow symmetrically. They occur due to a vocal abuse or misuse. Although it is usually more common in adults (especially in women due to the size of the cords, which are shorter than those of men), they can also appear in children. In fact, the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology estimates that between 37% and 78% of childhood dysphonia is due to vocal nodules. As for its treatment, in the case of children it is treated with vocal re-education and learning good vocal technique, and in adults it begins with a vocal rest of between 10 and 15 days, sometimes accompanied by speech therapy rehabilitation and, If there is no improvement, phonosurgery is used.
The acute laryngitisthat is, the cold or catarrh Produced by a virus, it can inflame, irritate and redden the vocal cords and lead to dysphonia that usually disappears in about 7 or 10 days.
Laryngitis can be noninfectious, caused by some allergy or even due to insect bites, food ingestion or some medication, among other triggers. Symptoms can range from a mild tingling to a throat clearing and, in the most extreme case, to severe respiratory obstruction that requires urgent treatment.
He gastroesophageal reflux (return of gastric contents into the esophagus, which can compromise the lungs, larynx, pharynx and nasal cavity) can also be behind dysphonia, especially laryngopharyngeal reflux, which occurs in an upright position and mainly during the day, according to what they point out. since the association of gastroesophageal reflux. Refluxes can cause irritation and inflammation of the vocal cords, mucosal thickening, even edema in the back of the larynx. People who suffer from it can improve their condition by going not only to the gastroenterologist but also to the otorhinolaryngologist.
Smokers are also more likely to suffer from hoarseness. If this persists for more than fifteen days, you must go, since abusing the tobacco It can irremediably lead to laryngeal cancer. In fact, Spain is one of the countries in the world with the highest incidence of laryngeal cancer due to excessive tobacco consumption, according to the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery (SEORL-CCC).
Decalogue of the Voice and Phoniatrics Commission of the Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology
Do not talk in noisy environments
If your voice competes with intense ambient noise, you will always lose. Alternatives: speak directly to the interlocutor, articulate more than usual and speak clearly and slowly to avoid repeating.
Tobacco is an irritant factor for the larynx. The smoke passes between the vocal cords and predisposes benign lesions such as edema or polyps to appear. In addition, it is the main cause of laryngeal cancer.
Do not scream or talk yelling
The use of the voice must be adapted to the real possibilities, which can be improved through speech therapy, especially for people who use their voice a lot.
Don’t talk excessively
Experts recommend resting your voice by doing periods of 15-20 minutes of silence two or three times a day, limiting phone use and avoiding interrupting others, among other measures. In general, you should not talk for more than 4 hours in a row or sing for more than 2 hours.
You should drink about two liters of water daily so that the mucosa that covers the vocal cords is well hydrated.
Tiredness is reflected in the voice. Therefore, you should sleep more than six hours and rest before using your voice much, especially in professionals.
Do not use residual lung air when speaking
You should never speak with the final rest of your breath and feel a sensation of suffocation. This occurs when the veins in the neck become visible when speaking.
Avoid laryngeal irritants such as smoke and dusty areas
It is also advisable not to speak in very dry environments since environmental dryness removes protection from the vocal cords. It is advisable to use a humidifier, avoid environments with a lot of heating or air conditioning, and also open and ventilate the rooms to renew the air.
Don’t clear your throat
Throat clearing is a traumatic stress behavior for the vocal cords. Some alternatives: swallow saliva, drink small sips of water, make a dull cough (without putting the vocal cords together).
Perform regular voice checks
Go to specialists, preferably an otorhinolaryngologist or speech therapist. And always consult if dysphonia persists for more than 15 days, without having a cold.
Emotions alter voice
The emotionshe stressthe personal situations…they are reflected in the voice. How many people are left without a voice in the face of a traumatic event, prolonged stressful situations or due to the simple fact of not saying in time what they really want to shout? Experts point out that psychological and emotional factors play a relevant role in vocal pathologies since “they may be responsible for perpetuating dysphonia or hoarseness.” According to scholars of the call dysphonia and psychogenic aphonia “The muscles of the larynx are especially sensitive to emotional stress.” Among the reasons for this type of pathology are stressful life events (physical or psychological abuse, the death of a loved one…), problems related to family and work; depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty expressing points of view and emotions for fear that things will get worse or excessive responsibilities (the person establishes a relationship between not taking responsibility with the loss of voice). The treatment, in this type of case, is carried out in conjunction with voice exercises and additional psychotherapy.