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Category: Illness or disabilities



Introduction and description


Aphonia is defined as the inability to produce voiced sound.  That is the loss of the ability to speak or make a noise. 

Aphonia means "no sound". In other words, a person with this disorder has lost his/her voice. 

The loss of the voice may appear to be permanent, in which case the person may be classified as ‘mute’, or it may be temporary and caused by a pathogen such as the common cold virus.


Aphonia can be caused by both physical reasons and psychological reasons

Physical damage


There may be physical reasons why a person cannot speak - problems with the parts of the human body required for human speech, the esophagus, vocal cords, lungs, mouth, or tongue, etc. or damage to the part of the brain which is used to process speech or sound - Broca's area, located in the left inferior frontal cortex of the brain.

One cause of aphonia is bilateral disruption of the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which supplies nearly all the muscles in the larynx. Damage to the nerve may be the result of surgery (e.g., thyroidectomy) or a tumour.

Tracheotomy can also cause aphonia.

Anything that prevents the vocal cords, the paired bands of muscle tissue positioned over the trachea, from coming together and vibrating will have the potential to make a person unable to speak. When a person prepares to speak, the vocal folds come together over the trachea and vibrate due to the airflow from the lungs. This mechanism produces the sound of the voice. If the vocal folds cannot meet together to vibrate, sound will not be produced.

Thus where the reason is a physical one and the particular part of the body that is causing the problem identified, the next step is to find the root cause of the damage.  The main root causes are then:

Sadly many many pharmaceuticals can also be added to this list.  One very key pharmaceutical is the Vaccines.

Psychological reasons

Aphonia, when psychological, is usually brought on by extreme emotion, a shock of some sort, fury, grief, overwhelming fear and so on.  The shock may actually result in temporary physical damage – the surge of emotion passing through the brain acting like a damaging current.  The following appeared in the "Lancet" of Sept. 17th, 1870, the report of the case, which was under the care of Dr. Habershon, is no less valid for being an older case history:

The patient saw one of her children scald herself, and ran and caught her in her arms; then, having handed her to another person, immediately lay down, and from that time remained for three days motionless, unconscious, and without food. On admission at Guy's, three weeks after, she could say two or three words very imperfectly, her pupils were equal, her physical powers unimpaired. On being questioned, she indicated that she had great pain at the vertex of the head. Three days after, she appeared perfectly intelligent but replied to almost everything, sometimes with a little hesitation, " Yes'm ;" sometimes, however, to a question requiring a negative reply, two or three times repeated, she succeeded in answering, "No, m'm;" and once or twice she, with great. effort, and after some failures, expressed one of the first two or three numerals, but days, weeks, months, and years, were quite beyond her utterance, and after several despairing shakes of the head, a great effort would end in the almost invariable "Yes'm." She remained quite unable either to read or write. Five days after, the pain in the head was less severe; she could make almost any reply, requiring no more than two or three short words, but the interrogator was still addressed as " mum." She also read one or two short words correctly, and was able to write her name distinctly. When again seen, four days later, she was walking about the ward, apparently in perfect health. She still complained of pain at the top of the head, and though her vocabulary was limited, and her speech sometimes hesitating, she was in a fairly convalescent condition.


Find the cause

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