The Merriam Webster dictionary would describes hoarse as “rough or harsh in sound”. A hoarse voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained, or show changes in volume or pitch. Voice changes, such as hoarseness, are related to disorders in the sound-producing parts (vocal folds) of the voice box (larynx). The important thing to note, is that hoarseness is a symptom and not a disease. If your hoarseness is present for longer than two weeks, you should be evaluated by a physician.
How is hoarseness diagnosed?
Hoarseness is diagnosed by first obtaining a general history and evaluating your voice quality. Then the doctor may evaluate your voice box or larynx by using a mirror or flexible endoscope. Next, then doctor may order tests to determine the cause of your hoarseness. These tests could include a biopsy, x-rays, thyroid function test, or videostrobe.
How is hoarseness treated?
The treatment of hoarseness will depend on your diagnosis. Often times, hoarseness can be treated by resting your voice and drinking plenty of fluids. Surgery may be recommended if there are abnormalities to the vocal cords, like polyps or masses.
How is hoarseness prevented?
Hoarseness from overuse of your voice or a cold can be alleviated by refraining from using your voice too long or too loudly. You should also drink plenty of water and humidify your home. It is also important to avoid smoking, or exposure to passive (second hand) smoke.
If you have hoarseness, it is important to be evaluated by your local Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. We perform Videostrobe procedures in our office that can help diagnose voice disorders that often can cause hoarseness. Give us a call at (616) 994-2770 to schedule your consult.