What is Hoarseness

Hoarseness is a condition marked by changes in the pitch or quality of the voice, which may sound weak, scratchy or husky. Hoarseness can be caused by misuse or overuse of the voice, viruses, and growths on the vocal cords like cysts, papillomas, polyps and nodules, among other things.

Hoarseness Causes

Acute laryngitis: The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis. A cold, viral infection in your breathing tract, or voice strain can make your vocal cords swell. You can seriously damage your vocal cords if you talk while you have laryngitis.

Non-cancerous vocal cord lesions: Nodules, polyps, and cysts usually develop after prolonged trauma to the vocal cords from talking too much, too loudly, or with bad technique.

Pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions: Pre-cancer or cancerous lesions on the vocal cords can also cause hoarseness. If it lasts four weeks or more, or if you are at a higher risk of developing throat cancer (i.e., you smoke), you should have your voice box evaluated by an ENT specialist.

Neurological diseases or disorders: Hoarseness can occur with Parkinson’s disease or after a stroke. A rare disorder called spasmodic dysphonia can also create hoarseness or uneasy breathing. A paralyzed vocal cord, usually after surgery, viral illness, or injury, may also cause a weak, breathy voice.

Vocal cord atrophy: As we age, our vocal cords become thinner (decreased bulk) and floppy (decreased tone). This is not due to talking too much or too little, it’s just a fact of life. A raspy voice that changes from day to day with decreased power is common.

Vocal cord hemorrhage: You can lose your voice after yelling or other strenuous vocal activity if a blood vessel/blood blister breaks, filling the vocal cord with blood. This is a vocal emergency and should be treated with complete voice rest and examination by an ENT specialist.

Hoarseness Treatment

  • Rest your voice for a few days.
  • Drink plenty of hydrating fluids.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
  • Take a hot shower.
  • Stop or limit your smoking.
  • Moisten your throat by sucking on lozenges or chewing gum.
  • Eliminate allergens from your environment.

The information on this website is for general educational purpose only. Readers should consult their physician before considering treatment, and should not interpret their condition solely based on the information above.
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