Hoarseness Causes & Symptoms
What is hoarseness?
Hoarseness is the term used to describe an abnormal change in the voice due to swelling (edema) or polyps (lumps) on the vocal folds in the voice box. Vocal folds are the part of voice box (larynx) that allows sound to be produced. When vocal cords are open, air passes freely through them. When they fold, or come together, they vibrate and create sounds. When these vocal folds swell or have irregular growths, the sound quality will change. A hoarse voice may sound raspy, different in pitch, or strained.
What causes hoarseness?
The most common cause of hoarseness is laryngitis, which is the swelling of the vocal cords. This kind of vocal change is common during a common cold or voice strain. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causes stomach acid to enter the food pipe (esophagus) and irritates the vocal folds. Vocal cord polyps appear when you are using your voice too much or speaking loudly for a long period of time without specifically trained for it.
Such vocal cord polyps are benign growths on the vocal folds. Smoking can cause hoarseness, which is a potential sign of throat cancer. It is always best to see an ear, nose and throat specialist if your voice becomes hoarse and you are a smoker.
Allergies, voice box injury, thyroid problems, and laryngeal cancer are other potential conditions related to hoarseness. Due to the severity of certain conditions related to throat hoarseness, your condition should always be evaluated by a professional ear, nose and throat doctor, such as ENT in Cayman Ltd.
When should I see a doctor about hoarseness?
If you experience hoarseness accompanied by any of the following conditions, either see your primary care physician or an ENT- specialist without delay: difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, lump on your neck and significant voice changes that last longer than 4 weeks.
How is hoarseness diagnosed?
If you experience persisting hoarseness, it is important to see a doctor for an evaluation. An ear, nose and throat specialist will conduct a physical exam in addition to evaluating symptoms and medical history to make an accurate diagnosis. Sometimes, a fiberoptic laryngoscopy is required to examine the vocal cords and its function.
How is hoarseness treated?
If laryngitis is determined to be the cause of hoarseness, a ENT in Cayman Ltd. doctor can provide laryngitis treatment. If there is another cause for the condition, our physicians can recommend other hoarseness treatment options, ranging from simply resting the voice to minimal invasive procedures, such as vocal cord polyp removal.
Consult an ENT-specialist to determine the right treatment for your condition. If you are suffering from a sore throat, raspy voice, or hoarseness, the first step towards feeling better is to schedule an evaluation with an experienced ear, nose and throat doctor.