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Hoarseness

What is Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is the abnormal change in the pitch or volume of your voice. It may cause your voice to become more strained, harsh or raspy depending on the severity and root cause of your condition. It is generally caused by irritation or injury to your vocal cords. The treatment of hoarseness depends on its underlying cause that can be determined by an experienced otolaryngologist.

If you are showing some or all of its common systems, do not hesitate to set up an appointment with our skilled and experienced ENT specialists. Give us a call at 440-352-1474 and start your journey to quick recovery!

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What Causes Hoarseness?

Various disorders can affect the performance of the sound producing parts (vocal folds) of your voice box or larynx. When you are quiet, your vocal folds remain apart to facilitate breathing. When you speak, the air leaving your lungs makes the folds to come together, vibrate and produce sound. Irritation or swelling of these vocal folds can cause your voice to change or hoarse.

Following are some of the underlying causes of damage to your voice folds leading to hoarseness:

  • Acute Laryngitis: A common cold, an upper respiratory infection or an injury to vocal folds due to strenuous voice can cause vocal folds to swell and hoarse your voice.
  • Benign Vocal Cord Lesions: Using your voice too much singing or speaking too loudly can lead to nodules, polyps or cysts in your voice box causing your voice to change.
  • Vocal Hemorrhage: Yelling at the top or your lungs can cause the blood vessels on the surface of your vocal folds to rupture leading to sudden loss of voice. An ENT specialist has to be contacted immediately.
  • GERD: Gastro-esophageal reflux causes stomach acid to come up the esophagus and irritate the vocal folds. The resulting heartburn and regurgitation can leave your voice hoarse.
  • Neurological Disorders: In some cases hoarseness may be the result of a neurological disease like Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spasmodic dysphonia or a paralyzed vocal fold.
  • Other Causes: Some other underlying causes of hoarseness include Allergies, Thyroid problems, Goiter, Lung cancer, Throat cancer, Respiratory irritants, and Trauma to the voice box.

What are the Symptoms of Hoarseness?

The most obvious symptoms of hoarseness are the changes in your voice. Your voice may feel:

  • Breathy
  • Strained
  • Deep
  • Harsh
  • Weak
  • Pitchy
  • Raspy

You may experience other accompanying symptoms such as:

  • Pain in your throat
  • Swollen voice box
  • Lumpy or stuffy throat
  • Excessive mucous in the throat

What are the Risk Factors for Hoarseness?

Following factors can increase your chances of developing Hoarseness:

  • Smoking
  • Speaking in noisy situations
  • Using too high or too low of a pitch when speaking
  • Public speaking without amplification
  • Excessive use of your voice
  • Heartburn and acidity

When Should I see a Doctor?

Call an ENT specialist if:

  • Your voice is hoarse without a cold or flu
  • If you are coughing up blood
  • If you have difficulty swallowing
  • If you experience breathing difficulty or pain while you speak
  • If your voice has been hoarse for more than three weeks

How is Hoarseness Diagnosed?

Following diagnostic procedures may be carried out by your doctor:

  • Laryngoscopy to thoroughly asses the vocal folds using a mirror placed in the back of your throat or with a lighted fiberoptic scope that is passes through the nose
  • Videotaping
  • Stroboscopy

How is Hoarseness Treated?

As there are many underlying causes of Hoarseness the treatment may vary in each case.

  • Resting your voice betters the symptoms in most cases
  • Voice coaches, speech pathologists as well as otolaryngologists can help you modify the way you use your voice
  • Vocal nodules, polyps and cysts can be treated with microsurgery and voice therapy

Hoarseness can negatively affect the quality of life and if left unchecked, can lead to serious complications. If you are showing some or all of its common systems, do not hesitate to set up an appointment with our skilled and experienced ENT specialists. Give us a call at 440-352-1474 and start your journey to quick recovery!