If you\u2019re a professional singer, you may know exactly why and when your voice occasionally gets hoarse. But for the rest of the world, losing your voice can be a mystery, especially when there\u2019s no obvious answer. So why do we lose our voices?\nRest assured, there are logical reasons why you may have lost your voice. But first, let\u2019s establish how your body produces sound in the first place.\nBetween the base of your tongue and the top of your trachea sits your larynx, more commonly known as the voice box. The larynx is a hollow organ that houses your vocal cords. When you\u2019re sitting quietly, breathing, those cords are relaxed and open.\nBut when it\u2019s time to say something, they squeeze together so that the air flowing through vibrates the tissue and creates sound. The type of sound produced depends on the size and shape of your vocal cords and mouth. Other factors include the voluntary tightening and loosening of your vocal cords to elevate and lower pitch, such as when you imitate the sound of a siren.\nWhy Am I Losing My Voice?\nAnother factor that affects the quality of your voice is your health. Now that you know how your voice normally works, you\u2019re probably wondering, \u201cthen why am I losing my voice?\u201d Which one of those anatomical parts is malfunctioning? And most importantly, why?\nThere are a number of reasons you may have gone hoarse or completely lost your voice. If you\u2019ve recently attended a concert or cheered on your favorite sports team, your vocal cords have likely been overused.\nThe other most common cause of voice loss is acute laryngitis. Depending on the culprit of your laryngitis, other symptoms can include a dry feeling in the throat, trouble swallowing, irritation, and coughing. Your voice may sound deeper than usual, scratchy, or altogether gone. Laryngitis is often the result of the flu or another upper respiratory infection, the common cold, or allergies. But when the symptoms of laryngitis extend beyond a period of two weeks, it\u2019s considered chronic and should be checked out by your physician.\nOther Possible Causes\nIf you\u2019ve lost your voice and can\u2019t identify an obvious cause, make an appointment to see your doctor. Experiencing unexpected hoarseness or voice loss can indicate an underlying health condition.\nOther possible causes include:\n\nAcid reflux, known as heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)\nGrowths on your vocal cord tissue, also called vocal nodules, polyps, cysts, and contact ulcers\nLarynx cancer\nPsychological trauma\nVocal cord paralysis\nSome neurological disorders or diseases\n\nUnder normal conditions, occasionally losing your voice is simply part of life. But when the clues don\u2019t add up to overuse or laryngitis, it\u2019s time to get a professional consultation. For more information, contact the vocal health experts at UPMC\u2019s Voice Center at 412-232-SING (7464).