What Is Hoarseness?
Hoarseness is a change in the pitch or volume of your voice. The abnormal change can include your voice being harsh, deep, raspy, weak, strained, or even breathy. It can also include any other change in volume or pitch of your voice that you consider to be abnormal. Hoarseness can occur due to a wide range of reasons. However, it most commonly happens when the larynx or vocal folds in your throat are suffering from any disorder.
While Hoarseness itself isn’t a disease, it is known to be a symptom of many diseases, which is why it is a good idea to know more about it,and find out and find out what the causes are how you can treat it.
What Cause Hoarseness?
Hoarseness can happen due to several reasons. However, the most general cause of Hoarseness lies in the disorders of the larynx or the vocal cords.
The vocal cords are present in the larynx, also known as the voice box, which is a part of our respiratory tract. You might have heard of the outer layer of the larynx since it is most commonly known as the “Adam’s apple.” Inside the larynx, the vocal cords form a very prominent “V” shape, with two bands of muscles. It is these bands or vocal cords that vibrate and produce sound every time we speak or sing. If your vocal cords were to suffer from any disorder, the quality of the sound they create would be different from what you are used to.
In other words, injury, irritation, or inflammation to the vocal cords can result in hoarseness. Fortunately, the causes of this hoarseness usually are viral, temporary, and tend not to last long. If it lasts less than two weeks, then that is normal. However, if hoarseness causes difficulty in breathing or if it lasts longer than two weeks, then that can be a sign of a more serious issue. For that reason, consider booking an appointment with an ENT specialist immediately.
Apart from this most common cause of Hoarseness, other causes may include:
- Vocal cord paralysis
- Cysts, benign vocal cord nodules or polyps
- Allergies, or the common cold
- Respiratory tract infection
- GERD or the gastroesophageal reflux
- Thyroid problem
- Trauma to the vocal cords or larynx
- Inhaling respiratory tract irritants
- Larynx cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurological disorder and conditions like Parkinson’s disease
- Vocal abuse
Signs and Symptoms
The dead giveaway of Hoarseness is the quality of your sound. Hoarseness typically gives your voice a harsh or raspy sound. Other associated symptoms, and the rapidity of the onset of those symptoms, all depend on the underlying cause of it.
The signs, symptoms, or any other abnormality that you might notice, are your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. You would do well not to take this lightly.
Hoarseness that is recurring or persistent can very well be a warning sign of larynx cancer. The degree and severity of your diagnoses will depend entirely on your physical examination and your medical history. For this reason, we advise you to consider getting a diagnosis from a certified health care provider rather than self-diagnosing it.
While you can take easy preventive measures for Hoarseness like avoiding strenuous use of your voice and ceasing smoking, the proper treatment is somewhat tricky. The course of treatment for Hoarseness varies with each underlying cause.
- Acute laryngitis can require conservative treatments.
- Irritation and injury to the vocal cord can demand vocal rest.
- GERD or gastroesophageal reflux can require medication.
- Treating a Trauma to the vocal cords, Polyps or benging nodules, and larynx cancer may require surgery.
If Hoarseness persists for more than two weeks or is causing difficulties in breathing, then have it evaluated as soon as possible. Moreover, certified Otolaryngologist and ENT specialists like Dr. Michael C. Burnett, MD, highly suggest urgent medical attention to Hoarseness that is associated with throat pain.
In any case, you should not take Hoarseness lightly. You can get more information about your Hoarseness from Dr. Burnett by calling 212-867-4813 and visiting us at 115 East 57th Street
(Between Park + Lexington Ave.) Suite 600, New York, NY 10022.