Hoarseness occurs when an inflammation of the larynx changes the voice, making it sound raspy, scratchy, or strained. The throat might become sore and there may be some fluctuations in volume and pitch, as well. Hoarseness is otherwise known as dysphonia, which refers to voice impairment or any voice disorder.
What Causes Hoarseness?
Hoarseness is caused by a variety of different conditions including, cold or sinus infections, voice misuse or abuse, benign vocal cord lesions, acid reflux, vocal hemorrhage, tobacco and alcohol use, thyroid diseases, cancer, trauma to the voice box, viral infection, and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or spasmodic dysphonia, a chronic vocal cord disorder.
The most common cause is acute laryngitis or swelling of the vocal folds. This occurs during a cold, upper respiratory infection, or from voice strain. Serious injury to the vocal folds may result from strenuous voice use during acute laryngitis.
How Is Hoarseness Treated?
Many times, hoarseness clears up on its own without any medical intervention. Resting the voice is usually the best form of treatment. Surgery may be recommended if lesions are present. Voice therapists can teach patients to alter their methods of speech production to improve the sound of the voice and resolve problems, such as vocal nodules.
Eliminate spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine from your diet, give up cigarettes, avoid activities such as shouting, whispering, or using inappropriate pitch or volume. These activities will help manage virtually any chronic hoarseness symptoms.
Schedule an appointment with ENTACC if hoarseness lasts more than three weeks, is not accompanied by cold or flu symptoms, affects your ability to swallow or breathe, or otherwise interferes with your livelihood.
You will be given a thorough examination and may be given a laryngoscopy. Treatment depends on the cause but it’s likely to include drugs, surgery, and/or voice therapy.