What Causes Hoarseness?

speech doctor consultationHave a hoarse voice? Hoarseness is an abnormal change in your voice. When hoarse, your voice may sound strained, breathy, or raspy. Dr. Paul Burk at Ear Nose Throat St Luke's Balloon Sinuplasty in St. Luke's Hospital, offers treatments for ear, nose, and throat problems. Read on to find out what causes hoarseness.

1. Acute Laryngitis- The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis. Laryngitis is swelling and inflammation of the larynx. Most cases of laryngitis are triggered by a viral infection or vocal strain and are not serious. You can manage most acute cases of laryngitis with self-care steps, such as drinking plenty of fluids and resting your voice. Make an appointment with a St. Luke's doctor if your symptoms last more than two weeks.

2. Voice Misuse- Prolonged, excessively loud, or inefficient voice use can lead to voice problems, just like improper lifting can lead to a back injury. Using your voice too much, too loudly, or for a long period of time can cause hoarseness. Vocal abuse puts you at risk for developing benign vocal cord lesions or a vocal hemorrhage.

3. Smoking- Smoking is a common cause of hoarseness. Smoking can cause hoarseness because it irritates the throat lining, causing inflammation and swelling that thickens the vocal cords. This thickening can lower the pitch of your voice and make it sound harsh and raspy. 

4. Laryngeal Cancer- Laryngeal cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the tissues of the larynx. The symptoms of laryngeal cancer may include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, coughing, sore throat, earache, and difficulty breathing. Laryngeal cancer is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. If laryngeal cancer is detected early, it is curable. 

5. GERD- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into your esophagus. Common signs and symptoms of GERD include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, chest pain, heartburn, and a sensation of a lump in your throat. Most individuals can manage the discomfort of GERD with medications and lifestyle changes. But some individuals with GERD may need surgery to ease symptoms.

6. Thyroid Problem- The thyroid is a small gland that sits low on the front of your neck. This gland pumps out a hormone that controls a number of functions in your body. When your thyroid does not make enough of it, one symptom you might experience is hoarseness. 

Voice problems shouldn't be ignored. Any persistent abnormal change in the voice should be evaluated by an ENT doctor. If you have a hoarse voice, call Ear Nose Throat St Luke'ss Balloon Sinuplasty at (314) 477-4995 to schedule an appointment in St. Luke's Hospital. We want you to live the best life possible!

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