Hoarseness is the name for any change from your normal voice. Your voice may sound breathy, raspy or strained. It may also be a loss of singing range, tone, pitch or quality. There are many possible causes of hoarseness and an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) should evaluate any hoarseness that impairs your daily life, lasts more than seven days or is accompanied by pain. In some cases, patients experience hoarseness or loss of voice suddenly over the course of a few minutes or hours.
Most of the time, hoarseness is caused by infection, though it may have one of many other underlying causes as well.
If you’re experiencing long-lasting or serious problems with your voice, please give Camino ENT a call to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.
What Causes Hoarseness?
Hoarseness is the result of a problem with the vocal cords. It can be caused by a variety of different conditions including cold or sinus infections, acute laryngitis, voice misuse or abuse, benign vocal cord lesions, acid reflux, vocal hemorrhage, tobacco and alcohol use, thyroid diseases, cancer, trauma to the voice box and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or spasmodic dysphonia, a chronic vocal cord disorder.
How Is Hoarseness Treated?
Many times, hoarseness clears up on its own without any sort of medical intervention. Many patients take a wait-and-see approach, treating symptoms with home remedies that include resting the voice, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and using a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
Making certain lifestyle changes – eliminating spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine from the diet, giving up cigarettes, avoiding activities that cause vocal cord strain such as shouting, whispering, or using inappropriate pitch or volume – are all helpful ways to reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with chronic hoarseness.
Sometimes, a trip to see an otolaryngologist or other ENT specialist is necessary. If hoarseness lasts longer than three weeks, is not accompanied by cold or flu symptoms, affects your ability to swallow or breathe or otherwise interferes with your livelihood, schedule an appointment with Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic.
You will be given a thorough physical examination, including the ears, nose, and throat, and may be given a laryngoscopy or other special test to help analyze the vocal folds. Treatment depends on the cause and may include drugs, surgery, and/or voice therapy.
Call Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic at (408) 227-6300 for more information or to schedule an appointment.