What Causes Hoarseness and How Do We Treat It?

Hoarseness is a general term that describes abnormal voice changes. When hoarse, the voice may sound breathy, raspy, strained or there may be changes in volume (loudness) or pitch (how high or low the voice is).

Causes of Hoarseness

There are many causes of hoarseness. Fortunately, most are not serious and tend to go away in a short period of time.

  • Acute laryngitis is due to swelling from a common cold, upper respiratory infection or irritation caused by excessive voice use such as screaming at a sporting event or concert.
  • Voice Overuse – using the voice too much, too loudly, or improperly over extended periods of time can lead to vocal nodules (singer’s nodules), callous-like growths, or to polyps of the vocal cords (more extensive swelling). Both of these conditions are benign. Vocal nodules are common in children and adults who raise their voice in work or play.
  • Gastro-Esophageal Reflux (including Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or “silent reflux”) is when stomach acid comes up the swallowing tube (esophagus) and irritates the vocal cords. These individuals may have a sensation of a lump in their throat, mucus sticking in their throat or an excessive desire to clear their throat. Usually, the voice is worse in the morning and improves during the day.
  • Smoking is another cause of hoarseness. As smoking is a cause of throat cancer, if smokers are hoarse, they should see an Otolaryngologist (ENT Doctor).
  • Other causes for hoarseness include allergies, thyroid problems, neurological disorders, trauma to the voice box, and occasionally, the normal menstrual cycle.

North Carolina EENT has offices in Cary, Durham, and Chapel Hill for treatment of hoarseness.

Contact us today!  Make an appointment at one of our nearby offices, to discuss treatment options.