I'm going on 3 weeks of barely being able to speak, and when I do it's only is a very soft hoarse voice. There are no other symptoms, I'm otherwise perfectly healthy otherwise as far as I know. I'm just growing very anxious as it does not seem to be improving at all.
General background: I'm a visual artist based in NYC, originally from Florida. No background of illnesses. I smoke a couple times a week and drink a few times a week. Rarely drinking to excess.
My voice became hoarse in June for a few days while I was working on a particularly stressful project that deprived me of sleep for a few days. But it came back shortly after. I had been busy preparing for another big project through the month of October. After that I had noticed my voice was a little hoarse at times, but I could still communicate fine. I figured it would fix itself, but it slowly got worse, despite being finished with the most stressful part of the project. Since about the 18th of November I've only been able to talk in a very soft voice.
I saw an ENT 2 weeks ago. He said my vocal chords seemed inflamed and irritated and said it was probably stress related, he told me to stay away from alcohol, smoking, try not to speak, and to get a lot of sleep. He also prescribed me a 5-day antibiotic, which I took. I will be seeing him again in 2 days.
Basically my condition has not changed since seeing the ENT. I've been sleeping a lot, avoiding talking only when I have to, have avoided alcohol and smoke, I've also bought a humidifier incase this is a dry climate issue.
I'm really looking for a second opinion + wanted to post this incase anyone else is having this problem. Most examples online are related to other medical conditions.
Obviously this is a very frustrating condition, especially during the holidays.
Could I have done some sort of permanent damage? How long could it take for my voice to come back? Could this be related to another undiagnosed medical issue?
The one way that ENTs can see into the larynx to see the vocal cords is by flexible laryngoscopy which directly visualizes the cords. Effects on the cords are able to be seen including inflammation and nodules. The importance for limiting injury to the vocal cords is that injury can be permanent, that is to say that one can strain the cords so much that the sounds that come out now can be how it sounds for a looooong time. That said, if injury is limited, by avoiding injury to the cords, they can recover, but it takes a while. I agree with Mark1968 that GERD acid can injure cords, as can shouting, speaking, whispering, smoking, dryness, alcohol and other environmental issues. A second opinion is always a good idea, but the advice to stop speaking is what one would probably hear from any ENT.
Do you have reflux problems? Also did you ENT doctor do a scope procedure on you while you were in his/her office to physically look ? Do you feel like you have a lump in your throat? If you do, you could have a granuloma on one of your vocal cords, which could cause you to lose your voice.
Sorry I forgot to update my post. My ENT did use the flexible laryngoscopy to examine my vocal chords and said I didn't have any nodules, but that my chords were still inflamed. He said they appeared to be getting a little better, which was welcome news. He also prescribed me a 5 day steroid.
Of course it has been a month now. I feel fine, just can't talk much at all, and when I do it still sounds like Im sick, it's faint and higher in tone. Maybe a light improvement?
My ENT hasn't given any estimates on when it will get better, so I've been resting it as much as possible, hoping it will get better before I travel in mid January.
Dr. Choi how long have you seen this condition last for? What's the average?
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