Many people confuse these two terms, believing that they are synonyms. However, these are two voice disorders that are related but different. Here we show you the Difference between Aphonia and Dysphonia. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Dysphonia and Aphonia, definition and differences.
Dysphonia is a symptom whose diagnosis is made clinically in the event of any alteration in vocal production or the quality of the tone or volume of the voice and that affects the quality of life, work or social life. It constitutes the alteration of the voice in terms of its tone, timbre or intensity due to misuse or vocal abuse or due to an organic disorder. Thus, dysphonia can be classified as organic (when there is an anatomical lesion in the organs of phonation) and functional (without evidence of said lesion). Aphonia vs Dysphonia
On the other hand, Aphonia is the maximum alteration of dysphonia. It is the total loss of the voice and its origin can be physical, such as trauma, or psychological. It is considered a somewhat more serious disorder than dysphonia.
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Aphonia Vs Dysphonia
One way to remember the difference between aphonia and dysphonia is to analyze its name. The prefix “a-” before any word means absence. Therefore, A-phonia is the lack of voice . What is indicated with “dis-” is related to an alteration . In this way, dysphonia means an imbalance in the voice. This is the main difference between aphonia and dysphonia. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Main differences between Aphonia and Dysphonia
The voice is a very present element in our lives, both in everyday life and in professional life. Human language has been evolving and becoming more sophisticated thanks to the fact that our species has a very complex buccophonic apparatus , capable of emitting hundreds of different phonemes, which is why the main means of communication that people use to transmit our ideas, emotions, thoughts and opinions is the oral form of language.
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If we had to give a list of all the professions where the voice is essential, this would not end. In one way or another, in all professions, and practically in any situation that can occur to us, we need to speak, resort to oral language and, therefore, having a voice in good condition is essential, and much more if we take into account its importance in professions such as singer, telephone operator, actor, teacher, tour guide or radio presenter.
Unfortunately, it is not strange that the voice sometimes fails us. Terms such as “hoarseness”, “dysphonia” or “hoarseness” are common in the general vocabulary, words that everyone knows and that gives them a meaning, often identical . However, these three words are not synonymous, but although they refer to voice alterations, they refer to different degrees of inability to make sounds. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Differences in the severity of the problem
Let’s start with dysphonia. This word is made up of the prefix “dis” and the word “phonia”, both of Greek origin and which translate as “bad sound”. This refers to a qualitative and quantitative phonation disorder, either due to organic or functional causes related to the larynx , in which the normal timbre of the voice is lost but the ability to emit sounds is not lost. In dysphonia our voice is altered, but we can continue speaking.
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In contrast, aphonia (from “a” and “phonia”, “without voice”) refers to the condition in which the voice is completely absent . This means that, the many times we say that we are hoarse, we are not actually using the term correctly, since being hoarse, in its most literal sense, is not being able to make any sound. What we would really be in that situation is dysphonic, or having a hoarse voice. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Symptomatology Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Aphonia and dysphonia can be understood as two terms belonging to a continuum , with aphonia being the most extreme situation of dysphonia, in which not only the voice would be affected but also directly lost, this being the most striking difference. Apart from this, there are other differences in the form of common symptoms of one or another condition, which we will see below.
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Symptoms of dysphonia
The quantitative and qualitative alteration of the phonation brings with it a series of vocal characteristics or signs that differ according to the type of dysphonia , depending on the organic or functional origin. The signs of these phonation alterations can manifest in isolation or in combination with each other, and it is common for the symptoms, in the form of patient complaints, to coincide with the following signs: Aphonia vs Dysphonia
- monotone voice
- Trembling voice
- episodes of aphonia
- Changes in the intensity of the voice
- loss of treble
- Feeling short of breath when speaking
Added to this, the patient usually indicates that he has non-phonatory symptoms:
- I clear my throat to clear my voice
- Foreign body sensation when swallowing
- Mild to moderate sore throat when speaking
Symptoms of Aphonia Aphonia vs Dysphonia
In the case of aphonia, the two main symptoms are the most extreme of hoarseness and the complete inability to speak . The same symptoms do not occur as in dysphonia, such as trembling voice or loss of treble, because they directly have no voice. As for the non-phonatory symptoms, these are similar to those of dysphonia, being the following:
- Throat pain
- Spasm in the vocal cords
- Difficulty swallowing solids and liquids
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What is Aphonia?
This is the more serious of the two conditions and occurs when the person completely loses their voice; that is, when we cannot produce any sound or it sounds like a very low whisper. It can be something gradual or sudden and among the main causes we find problems in the larynx. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Most common causes of aphonia
- Diseases of the respiratory system such as pharyngitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, allergies, persistent cough, tumors or nodules.
- Misuse of the voice.
- Irritating or toxic products: tobacco, alcohol, pepper, vinegar, chemical or abrasive products.
- Manipulations of the area: after laryngeal surgery or other medical procedures. Also for injuries caused by accidents.
- Excess cold: if the temperature is very low or if we drink drinks that are too cold when the rest of our body is hot.
- Other causes: goiter, diphtheria, vocal cord paralysis, chronic diseases that weaken muscle tone. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Aphonia treatment Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Treatment varies depending on the cause of the aphonia. It can range from simple vocal rest , through medical treatment or speech therapy , to surgery .
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What is Dysphonia?
In the case of dysphonia, we must say that it is an alteration in the voice, without it disappearing completely as it happens in aphonia. It is known as “hoarseness” And although it can affect the entire population, teachers, speakers, singers, telemarketers, receptionists and voice professionals are the most likely to suffer from it. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Dysphonia occurs when the vocal cords are overloaded , the voice is loud, or the neck is not well covered in cold weather. Although the causes are similar to hoarseness, this condition does not last long and is usually not related to a more serious illness. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
One should pay attention if the dysphonia occurs several times a month or a year, not only in winter and even when we take precautions. If it happens very often, it may be due to a nodule or polyp on the vocal cords, a chordal cyst, a tumor, acute, chronic or reflux laryngitis, an intracordal hematoma or leukoplakia. In any case, a consultation with the otolaryngologist is very important to rule out chronic pathologies.
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The types of dysphonia
Dysphonic disorders can be organic, functional or organic-functional. Each type has a variety of possible causes.
Functional Aphonia vs Dysphonia
The most common type, it occurs when the vocal cords do not undergo any structural changes. In these situations, the problem arises from bad habits or temporary injuries. The incorrect use of the voice, for example, when it is used intensely, without preparation or pauses. Emotional changes and vocal disabilities are also present in this category.
Organic Aphonia vs Dysphonia
This is where the most primary reasons come in, when the vocal cords have a compromised structure, that is, there is an anatomical substrate that causes damage to the phonation process.
This type is the evolution of a functional dysfunction that, if left untreated, ends up becoming organic. Most of the time, this process occurs through nodules or polyps.
Signs of Dysphonia
And how to realize that there is really something wrong? Watch out for the following signs: Aphonia vs Dysphonia
- hoarseness (the main and most commonly identified);
- loss of voice (aphonia);
- effort when speaking;
- effort when projecting the voice;
- failures during speech;
- discomfort when speaking;
- inappropriate variations in pitch and frequency (high and low).
When noticing these symptoms, it is important to assess whether there is an apparent reason for them. For example, if you went to a concert , gave a speech, or attended another event where you abused your voice, the signs are likely to be momentary and pass on their own, with no need for intervention.
However, if you notice that they are frequent symptoms, that they appear for no reason and/or that do not disappear in a few days, it is important to consult an otolaryngologist. He will diagnose the problem and discover the cause of it, for which he will indicate the most appropriate treatment. Dysphonia can be treated in different ways, and sometimes follow-up with a speech therapist may also be indicated. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
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Etiology of voice disorders: the causes
The etiology of this type of disorders and, specifically of dysphonia, is very varied. It is always important to rule out a neoplastic lesion, which is why any dysphonia lasting more than two weeks needs to be referred to an otorhinolaryngology specialist, especially in patients with a smoking habit.
Some causes of dysphonia are: congenital malformations, acute laryngitis, vocal nodules and polyps, functional dysphonia, specific laryngitis, laryngeal tumors, laryngeal trauma, laryngeal paralysis, neurological diseases, spasmodic dysphonia or psychogenic dysphonia. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
Dysphonia: causes and favoring factors
The triggering factors by themselves are not capable of inducing a repetitive process of dysfunctional dysphonia, but certain conditioning factors, inherent to the person or their way of life, must be present:
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- Socio-professional obligation to speak or sing. This is the most important flattering factor. For example: teachers, announcers, singers, dependents, etc. If a person does not reduce the use of the voice when a triggering factor has momentarily altered it, he may enter the risk of the vicious circle of overexertion and reach aphonia.
- psychological characteristics. People with a nervous temperament, emotional, with a tendency to anxiety, etc.
- Prolonged psychological difficulties due to long-lasting conflict situations. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
- Alcohol and tobacco. They irritate the laryngeal mucosa, hindering the mobility of the vocal cords.
- Chronic nasopharyngeal or pulmonary infections, due to intercurrent extension of the infectious process towards the larynx.
- Exposure to noise, as the voice rises reflexively.
- Severe hearing loss. He has difficulties aurally appreciating the qualities of his voice.
Prevention of dysphonia and aphonia
Once the factors favoring or predisposing to dysphonia and aphonia have been identified, there are certain prevention measures, such as the application of hygiene standards to keep the larynx in optimal conditions and the achievement of an environment that is as ergonomic as possible. Avoiding exposure and contact to irritating substances, and inhaled irritants, as well as smoking, the intake of alcoholic beverages and vocal abuse are essential to avoid this disorder. Likewise, it is convenient to promote vocal training and adequate and constant hydration.
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Dysphonia assessment Aphonia vs Dysphonia
To contribute to an adequate assessment of each type of dysphonia, it is advisable to consult a health professional to establish a diagnosis and treatment. Some important aspects to take into account in this type of disorders are: the form of appearance, the duration, the possible triggering factors or precursors and the accompanying symptoms.
The pharmacist can make an important contribution to the health education of patients, promoting a healthy lifestyle, such as quitting tobacco and alcohol consumption, and monitoring measures to prevent voice disorders.
Likewise, in the pharmacy there are oral-pharyngeal products in tablets to suck of different flavors that can be indicated, under the recommendation of a health professional, for the local treatment of the symptoms of mild throat conditions that occur without fever, such as dysphonia. and hoarseness, both in adults and in children over 6 years of age. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
There are presentations with antiseptic components, to reduce the possibility of infection and others that also have ingredients in their composition that offer an anti-inflammatory action on the oropharyngeal mucosa and a local anesthetic action, thus eliminating the typical discomfort caused by local irritation. of the throat
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There are also lozenges to suck focused on moisturizing and protecting the mucosa of the throat. Some of them are especially indicated for people who intensely overload the vocal cords, or those at risk due to exposure to factors such as dry air, air conditioning, cold or polluted air, among others.
A health professional will be able to guide us on which is the most appropriate treatment in each case.
Why Voice is Lost?
There may be so much swelling in the vocal cords that the voice no longer comes out.
- On the one hand, this swelling causes the front part of the strings not to vibrate .
- On the other, in the back there is a space that does not close well and that is why the air escapes without producing sound. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
“ The combination of these two elements means that intelligible sounds cannot be articulated, no matter how much we squeeze our vocal cords as much as possible to achieve it ,” says Dr. Haag.
If the air escapes and the strings do not vibrate, there is a total absence of voice.
The vocal cords are two elastic and resistant muscles that, like other muscles of the body, must be warmed up and taken care of so that they do not get injured.
By making an overexertion we are harming them . If we do not remedy it, the problem will worsen.
What should you do?
- Don’t smoke . Any day and any reason is good to quit smoking.
- Drink lots of fluids .
- Avoid :
- Drinks that are too cold or too hot and foods that are spicy.
- The alcohol.
- Environments with a lot of smoke, dust or gases from irritating products.
- The dry air. You can moisten the environment with a vaporizer.
- Speak slowly .
- Use your voice little. Speak less and always in a moderate tone and intensity, do not shout or laugh too loudly .
- Avoid :
- Speak loudly in noisy environments. Don’t speak louder than the machines around you, the heavy traffic or other people. Aphonia vs Dysphonia
- Talking during exertion or physical exercise.
- Do not verbally confirm everything your interlocutor says, keep your voice quiet while listening .
- Do not clear your voice repeatedly (it’s the “cruuhm…”), or clear your throat sharply . This increases the inflammation of the vocal cords.
- Also avoid tense postures when talking, try to relax the muscles of the shoulders and neck, so that the veins in the neck are not noticeable.
- Reduce as much as possible the situations of exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and psychic tension.
- If it doesn’t improve, increase your voice rest. Don’t speak .
- You must know how to wait as the healing process can take several days.
- Gargling has no therapeutic effect on the vocal cords. Also avoid decongestants (nose drops) as they can dehydrate the vocal cords and prolong irritation.
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When to consult your family doctor?
- If in addition to dysphonia or aphonia you have difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- If it occurs frequently or hoarseness lasts longer than 15 days.
- If the hoarseness is in an infant less than 3 months old.
- If it is accompanied by excessive salivation, especially in children. Aphonia vs Dysphonia