Hoarseness

Hoarseness is produced from a variety of causes. It is important to find the cause so it can be treated. In the absence of a cold or upper respiratory illness, any hoarseness lasting more than 2 weeks should be looked at by a specialist. This is especially important if you have a history of smoking or alcohol use. It is also important to keep in mind that as you grow older, your voice will naturally get weaker, making it easier for you to become hoarse from straining your vocal cords.

CAUSES

ExitCare ImageAny illness that affects your vocal cords can result in a hoarse voice. Examples of conditions that can affect the vocal cords are listed as follows:

  • Allergies.

  • Colds.

  • Sinusitis.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease.

  • Croup.

  • Injury.

  • Nodules.

  • Exposure to smoke or toxic fumes or gases.

  • Congenital and genetic defects.

  • Paralysis of the vocal cords.

  • Infections.

  • Advanced age.

DIAGNOSIS

In order to diagnose the cause of your hoarseness, your caregiver will examine your throat using an instrument that uses a tube with a small lighted camera (laryngoscope). It allows your caregiver to look into the mouth and down the throat.

TREATMENT

For most cases, treatment will focus on the specific cause of the hoarseness. Depending on the cause, hoarseness can be a temporary condition (acute) or it can be long lasting (chronic). Most cases of hoarseness clear up without complications. Your caregiver will explain to you if this is not likely to happen.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have increasing hoarseness or loss of voice.

  • You have shortness of breath.

  • You are coughing up blood.

  • There is pain in your neck or throat.