Hoarseness is a condition in which the voice becomes raspy, rough, or scratchy. It can be temporary or long-lasting and can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. While hoarseness is usually not a serious condition, it can be quite frustrating, especially if it interferes with your daily life. The good news is that hoarseness is often a treatable condition. In this blog, we will explore the causes of hoarseness, its symptoms, and the various treatment options available.
The human voice is produced by the vibration of the vocal cords, which are two folds of muscle located in the larynx (voice box). When the vocal cords are healthy, they produce clear and smooth sounds. However, when they are damaged or inflamed, they produce hoarse sounds instead.
Common Causes of Hoarseness
Hoarseness can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Laryngitis: Inflammation of the larynx, caused by viral or bacterial infections, can result in hoarseness.
- Voice abuse: Overuse or misuse of the voice, such as shouting, talking loudly, or singing without proper training, can cause hoarseness.
- Acid reflux: Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause acid to irritate the vocal cords, leading to hoarseness.
- Thyroid problems: Disorders of the thyroid gland, such as an enlarged thyroid (goiter) or thyroid nodules, can cause hoarseness.
- Cancer: Benign or malignant tumors of the larynx, throat, or lung can cause hoarseness, especially if they affect the vocal cords.
- Allergies: Allergic reactions can cause inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords, leading to hoarseness.
- Dehydration: Lack of fluid in the body can cause the vocal cords to become dry and irritated, leading to hoarseness.
Symptoms of Hoarseness
In addition to a change in voice, other symptoms of hoarseness may include:
- Pain or discomfort in the throat
- A cough that won’t go away
- Difficulty swallowing
- A lump in the throat
- Breathing difficulties
Diagnosis of Hoarseness
If you experience hoarseness, it is important to see one of our providers at Enticare for a proper diagnosis. We will examine your throat and larynx and may need to visualize the movement of the vocal cords.
Treatment Options for Hoarseness
Treatment for hoarseness will depend on the underlying cause. Some common treatments include:
- Voice rest: This involves avoiding activities that put a strain on the voice, such as talking or singing.
- Medications: Anti-inflammatory medications or antibiotics may be prescribed to treat an infection.
- Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove a growth or polyp from the larynx.
- Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your lifestyle, such as quitting smoking or avoiding irritants, can help reduce hoarseness.
- Speech therapy: A speech therapist can help you learn how to use your voice correctly and reduce strain on your vocal cords.
To prevent hoarseness, it is important to take care of your voice and avoid activities that can cause strain or damage to the vocal cords. Here are some tips to help prevent hoarseness:
- Hydrate: Drink plenty of water to keep your vocal cords hydrated and healthy.
- Avoid irritants: Avoid smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke, and exposure to irritating substances, such as chemicals or dust.
- Rest your voice: Avoid talking or shouting for long periods of time. If you have a demanding job that requires a lot of talking, take breaks and use a microphone if possible.
- Warm up your voice: Just as you warm up before exercise, it is important to warm up your voice before using it.
Hoarseness is a common problem that can have a significant impact on your quality of life. With the right treatment, most people are able to find relief from hoarseness and regain their normal voice. If you are experiencing hoarseness, it is important to seek help from one of our providers at Enticare, contact us at 480-214-9000.