Voice hoarseness, or dysphonia, is when your voice sounds hoarse, raspy or strained. It’s very common and likely to occur in one in three people during their life. It’s also rarely a sign of serious illness and can have a multitude of causes.
Symptoms of Hoarseness
Hoarseness is common among those who use their voice frequently, such as performers, teachers or call center employees. You may be experiencing dysphonia if you have the following symptoms:
- You’re speaking more softly than usual
- You sound as though you’re having a hard time talking
- Your voice is breathy
- Your voice is higher or lower than usual
Causes of Hoarseness
There are several causes for hoarseness, the most common being laryngitis. Laryngitis is when the vocal cords in your voice box become irritated or swollen. Anything that affects your vocal cords can cause you to become hoarse.
Additional causes of hoarseness:
- Allergies, sinus infections or respiratory infections
- GERD, or acid reflux
- Vocal cord nodules or nodes on your vocal cords, likely from overuse of your voice
- Thyroid conditions
- Exposure to other irritating substances, such as air pollution
- Long-term use of inhalers
- Cancers of the voice box
- Neurological conditions such as strokes, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis
- Blunt trauma
You should seek medical treatment for your hoarseness if it hurts when you speak or swallow, if you’ve completely lost your voice, if you’re coughing up blood or if you have a lump on your neck. These may be indications of a more serious condition.
Your doctor will ask you a series of questions and perform a physical exam. Mild cases of hoarseness will be treated by resting your voice or potentially with antibiotics if the cause is an illness. In general, you can expect to have your voice back after some rest as hoarseness is rarely a sign of a more serious illness.
If you’re experiencing hoarseness, contact Pinnacle ENT Associates to schedule an appointment today.