What is Hoarseness- its Causes and Treatment?

Hoarseness-

An abnormal change in pitch and volume of the voice is known as hoarseness. It may range from deep, harsh voice to raspy, breathy or strained voice.
Hoarseness is a symptom and not a disease. It is indicative of an underlying disorder or condition.

The reason for the hoarseness is an injury or irritation of vocal cords located in your voice box or larynx.

A most common cause of hoarseness is laryngitis.

Other causes of hoarseness include:

  • Benign vocal cord nodules, cysts or polyps
  • common cold or upper respiratory infection
  • gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • allergies
  • Inhalation of respiratory tract irritants
  • smoking
  • Thyroid problems
  • Neurological conditions (such as Parkinson’s disease and strokes)
  • Cancer of the larynx

To diagnose your hoarseness, your ENT specialist or otolaryngologist will take a thorough medical history. He/ she will examine your voice box and surrounding tissue using a laryngoscope. Evaluation of voice quality is made.

  • A breathy voice may be suggestive of poor vocal cord function, caused by a benign tumor, polyp or larynx cancer.
  • A raspy voice may be indicative of vocal cord thickening due to swelling, inflammation from infection, a chemical irritant, voice abuse or paralysis of the vocal cords.
  • A high, shaky voice or a soft voice may be suggestive of trouble getting enough breathing force or air.

Your doctor will perform some Lab tests, such as a biopsy, x-rays, or thyroid function depending on the findings.

Depending on the underlying cause, your specialist will recommend the following treatment:

  • Cough suppressants and humidified air for acute laryngitis caused by an upper respiratory tract infection
  • Voice rest is recommended in order to avoid further irritation or injury to the vocal cords.
  • Cessation of smoke in individuals that smoke.
  • Medications for gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) or allergies.
  • Surgery may be advised for benign nodules or polyps, trauma to the larynx/vocal cords and for cancer of the larynx.

Consult our otolaryngologist, Dr. Mohit Bhutani, at CMC for proper diagnosis and treatment of voice hoarseness.


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