Aphonia is complete loss of voice. Aphonia may be caused by nerve damage, or psychological issues. When speaking, air moves through the vocal cords and the vibrations of the cords produce voice. If there is physical damage to the cords, they may not be able to vibrate effectively and the end result is no voice. Psychological issues may result from trauma or psychological events that affect voice production and leave an individual with no voice.
Nerve damage can include damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve following surgery such as a thyroidectomy or a tumour. Psychological issues (psychogenic aphonia) may result from a traumatic event or emotional shock and are non-organic in nature.