Hoarseness is often used to describe a change to the voice. People suffering from hoarseness may experience a strained, raspy and/or breathy voice. People may also notice a difference in how loud they are able to speak and/or changes in how high or low their voice sounds (Pitch).
What causes Hoarseness?
There are several causes of hoarseness. Fortunately, most are not serious and may resolve after a short period of time. When we talk/sing , the vocal cords normally come together and vibrate against each other . There are several reasons why the vocal cords may not be working correctly. The most frequent are:
- An upper respiratory tract viral infection, which causes the voice box to swell ( Laryngitis)
- The build up of tissue (polyps) and/or callous like growths (nodules) on the vocal cords. These can develop when the voice is used too much or too loudly for extended periods of time (Singer’s Nodules or Nodes )
- The growth of tumors on the vocal cords and or voice box (larynx). These tumors are may be non cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant)
- Stomach acid irritating the vocal cords (Gastro-esophageal Reflux)
How is Hoarseness treated?
Mild hoarseness- In most cases hoarseness will clear up on by itself. To help relieve the symptoms it may help to:
- rest the voice
- drink plenty of fluids
- avoid alcohol
- avoid smoking
Severe or Recurrent Hoarseness- People suffering from the following symptoms should seek medical advice from one of our physicians:
- prolonged hoarseness; voice changes for over two weeks
- complete loss of voice for more than two days
- repeated hoarseness
- prolonged sore throat or difficulty swallowing for more than two weeks
- severe change in the sound of the voice for more than two weeks
Medical examinations for hoarseness
Your ENT surgeon will examine the throat to identify the cause of the hoarseness. The exam is quick and is not painful, and it can be done in a regular office visit.
Treatments for hoarseness :
Depending on the clinical findings, there are a variety of treatments that may be recommended. These may include:
- adjustments to diet
- changes in vocal use and habits
- speech therapy
- and/or surgery
These various treatment plans will usually be discussed at your first office visit.