What is Vocal Fatigue, Know its Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

What is Vocal Fatigue?

Vocal Fatigue is a condition in which there is a fatiguing of the vocal cords which produce voice. This condition is generally seen in people who use their voice a lot either professionally or in personal life and can be anyone like an actor, teacher, senators or other political leaders, lawyers and the like.

Vocal fatigue arises due to people constantly speaking resulting in the muscles of the vocal cords getting fatigued and irritated resulting in a hoarse voice as if they have a sore throat.

Vocal Fatigue is a benign condition which does not require any specific treatment as such and can be treated just with simple rest and allowing the muscles to heal on their own. In some cases, Vocal Fatigue is misdiagnosed as acid reflux and people are put on medications for that but that do not change the nature of their voice since acid reflux was never the cause beforehand. This in turn makes the individual turn towards an ENT physician for a definitive diagnosis and this is where the individual after all tests gets a confirmed diagnosis of Vocal Fatigue.

What Causes Vocal Fatigue?

What Causes Vocal Fatigue?

As stated, Vocal Fatigue is mainly caused due to overuse of the voice as is the case with many singers, lawyers, teachers, and the like. The mechanism of Vocal Fatigue may be different. It can either arise from a muscle fatigue or a tissue fatigue. When there is muscle fatigue along with a hoarse voice the individual will experience a sharp pain in the throat whereas when there is tissue fatigue there will be discomfort that will be more localized in the area of the vocal cords.

Muscle fatigue tends to come on gradually and by the time the individual realizes that he or she has overused the vocal cords the muscles are already overstrained resulting in muscle tension dysphonia which is another name for Vocal Fatigue. In tissue fatigue, the vocal folds tend to get stiff due to overuse and vibrate haphazardly resulting in hoarseness and other abnormalities in the voice produced.

What are the Symptoms of Vocal Fatigue?

Some of the symptoms of Vocal Fatigue are:

  • Breathy voice
  • Voice that is tremulous and weak
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • In some cases, complete loss of voice.

How is Vocal Fatigue Treated?

Rest is the best way to treat Vocal Fatigue. Staying away from using the vocal cords for a few days will calm down the irritated muscles and tissues of the vocal cords and get them back to normal so that the individual can go about doing his or her business as usual. In some cases, where there is no respite from Vocal Fatigue despite adequate rest, then a consultation with a skilled speech therapist is recommended for adequate speech retraining to get the voice back.

If this condition is not treated there may be several complications that may arise from this including nodules, polyps, cysts, or chronic laryngitis. Thus, it is recommended as soon as an individual experiences symptoms that suggest Vocal Fatigue to seek a definitive diagnosis from an ENT physician and when the diagnosis is confirmed consult with a speech or voice therapist so as to get rid of the annoying condition called Vocal Fatigue.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 17, 2022

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