Throat Hoarseness

About Throat Hoarseness

Hoarseness is classified as a change in the voice (including the volume or pitch), making it sound breathy, raspy, or strained. These may be related to changes in the vocal folds of the larynx, also known as the voice box. Swelling or lumps on the vocal folds change the vibration, which changes the pitch, volume or quality of the voice. These changes should be evaluated by an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Hoarseness can result from swelling of the throat tissues such as from a common cold, or from overuse. Prolonged yelling (such as at a sporting event) or using your voice too much or too loudly can lead to benign vocal cord lesions, polyps or cysts.

A vocal hemorrhage is the sudden loss of your voice following strenuous vocal use. Blood vessels on the surface of the vocal folds can rupture, filling soft tissues with blood. This is an emergency that should be promptly treated by an ENT provider. You should absolutely not use your voice until the provider has given his/her approval to resume speaking.

Acute laryngitis and allergies are other causes of hoarseness that can be treated by an ENT specialist.

Hoarseness may also be caused by thyroid problems, trauma to the voice box, or smoking. Because of the risk of lung, throat and laryngeal cancer, smokers who experience chronic hoarseness should be evaluated promptly at the National Sinus Institute.