Hoarseness is a condition where the quality of the voice is considered to be altered.
Hoarseness may be subjective, however for the patient, the voice is considered a deviation from the baseline. Hoarseness can be temporary when it is related to a viral infection leading to a possible laryngitis. This usually resolves on its own with supportive treatment such as fluids and rest. Occasionally steroids may be given to accelerate the recovery of vocal cord swelling.
Hoarseness can also be related to repeat voice use. This can be in cases of voice overuse such as in cheerleaders or people who frequently scream. Excess use of one’s voice can also occur in professional voice users – that is people who use their voice for a living. Our patients who are teachers, singers, clergyman, attorneys, TV personalities and physicians may be affected.
Proper vocal hygiene is encouraged such as voice rest as much as possible and hydration. Limiting and being aware of medications which can be drying such as antihistamines can be helpful. These medications may sometimes exacerbate the problem of hoarseness.
In children and young adults, a common cause of hoarseness is vocal cord nodules . There nodules can result from constant shearing forces and trauma of the anterior portion of the vocal cord. In these regions a vocal cord cyst or polyp may also occur leading to altered voice.
In patients with a heavy tobacco history, hoarseness can be a sign of malignancy or cancer of the vocal cord. It is occasionally accompanied by ear pain, weight loss as well as difficulty swallowing.
Hoarseness which has persisted for over 3 to 4 weeks should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat specialist. Once the vocal cords are visualized, concerning lesions may be excluded and or addressed and treated.
If you are having hoarseness please call our office for an appointment.