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)
- Inhalation of respiratory tract irritants
- 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.