Hoarseness

Our senses are vital to our lives and this is perfectly exemplified when we suffer from hoarseness. The inability to communicate properly can create problems while our voice is abnormally deep or harsh. This condition afflicting our vocal cords usually arises from overuse or abuse of our vocal cords. Swelling of the larynx sometimes occurs alongside hoarseness.

Symptoms & Causes

Most people suffering hoarseness have suffered from irritation or injury to the voice box or larynx. When we speak or sing the vocal cords that usually vibrate freely can become restricted. Other causes can include stomach reflux, allergies, smoking, thyroid problems or cancer of the larynx. Symptoms can be a sore throat and abnormal voice that is raspy or cracks often. Most cases of hoarseness subside naturally with time and can be treated with home remedies. However, if problems with your voice continue more than two weeks, worsen drastically or begin to cause acute pain contact your doctor right away.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The best treatment for worn-out vocal cords is patience. With time and vocal rest your immune system will repair the damage done to the larynx and return your voice to normal. Avoid singing, talking loudly or whispering while your rest your voice. Don’t gargle or use decongestants. Consider stopping smoking if you do. Also humidifying the air and drinking water can offer relief. If you decide your symptoms are too severe or lasting too long then see your doctor. She or he may ask you some questions and perform a laryngoscopy, throat culture or could order an X-ray or CT scan. Depending upon the results your doctor may prescribe medication or alternative treatment plan based on the diagnosis (ie. allergies, bronchitis, larnygitis, vocal abuse).

Prevention

There are lifestyle choices you can make to prevent your risk of suffering hoarseness. Drinking lots of water, avoiding spicy and acidic foods, limiting alcohol and caffeine and not smoking are the major factors that can contribute to hoarseness. The single largest factor may be avoiding the overuse or abuse of your voice. Don’t clear your throat often, shout, or whisper too much at a stretch. Performers and public speakers should try to utilize a microphone and speaker instead of raising their voice.

Further Reading

MedlinePlus