Have you ever suddenly lost your voice as you were energetically cheering for the home team or during a sporting event? Does your voice head south when cold, flu and allergy seasons blow into town? Hoarseness can be bothersome and can cause us to sing bass when we really are a tenor. Hoarseness is highly treatable and the doctors at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat are the people you want to see when hoarseness takes up residence in your throat.
Hoarseness is defined as an abnormal change of the voice. A hoarse voice sounds breathy, raspy, strained or higher or lower in pitch. The voice-producing parts, called the vocal folds and larynx, become inflamed, injured or develop polyps and lesions.
Causes of hoarseness can include allergies, extended speaking, singing and a cold or upper respiratory viral infection (sometimes called acute laryngitis). It is important to take care of your voice during this time of inflammation. Continued use of the voice during acute laryngitis can result in more serious injury to the vocal cords.
Sudden voice loss after prolonged yelling may be caused by a vocal cord hemorrhage. This is a more serious condition and it occurs when a blood vessel in the vocal cords breaks and blood from the break enters the surrounding tissue. You should head to the office of South Valley Ear Nose & Throat if you experience this type of voice loss. The doctor will provide a treatment plan that will help restore your voice.
Other times to visit with our doctors at South Valley Ear Nose & Throat can include:
- A person who smokes and becomes hoarse should visit with their doctor
- Hoarseness that occurs without having a cold or the flu
- If you have difficulty swallowing or feel a lump in your neck
- If you are coughing up blood
- If you are a vocalist and are unable to perform
- If you have difficulty breathing or have pain when speaking or swallowing
Hoarseness is treated in a variety of ways. The doctor will gather a history of the patient’s voice concerns and perform a complete ear, nose and throat exam. The doctor may use a laryngoscope to look down the throat at the vocal folds. Some treatment plans may include partial or complete vocal rest or speech therapy. If polyps or lesions are causing hoarseness, surgery may be recommended to correct those problems.
Avoiding hoarseness is something we can all do. Some suggestions include:
- Quit smoking
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol which cause dehydration
- Use a microphone or other device when speaking
- Drink water and use a humidifier in your home
- When hoarse, avoid speaking or singing
- Steer clear of secondhand smoke