BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuHoarseness Voice strain; Dysphonia; Loss of voiceHoarseness refers to a difficulty making sounds when trying to speak. Vocal sounds may be weak, breathy, scratchy, or husky, and the pitch or quality of the voice may change. Considerations Hoarseness is most often caused by a problem with the vocal cords. The vocal cords are part of your voice box (larynx) located in the throat. When the vocal cords become inflamed or infected, they swell. This can cause hoarseness.The most common cause of hoarseness is a cold or throat infection, which most often goes away on its own within 2 weeks.A rare but serious cause of hoarseness that does not go away in a few weeks is cancer of the voice box. Causes Hoarseness may be caused by:Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux) Gastroesophageal refluxGastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which the stomach contents leak backward from the stomach into the esophagus (food pipe). F...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Allergies AllergiesAn allergy is an immune response or reaction to substances that are usually not harmful.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Breathing in irritating substances Cancer of the throat or larynx Chronic coughing CoughingCoughing is an important way to keep your throat and airways clear. But too much coughing may mean you have a disease or disorder. Some coughs are d...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Colds or upper respiratory infections Heavy smoking or drinking, particularly together Overuse or abuse of the voice (as in shouting or singing), which may cause swelling or growths on the vocal cords Less common causes include:Injury or irritation from a breathing tube or bronchoscopy BronchoscopyBronchoscopy is a test to view the airways and diagnose lung disease. It may also be used during the treatment of some lung conditions.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Damage to the nerves and muscles around the voice box (from trauma or surgery) Damage to the nerves and muscles around...Throat cancer is cancer of the vocal cords, larynx (voice box), or other areas of the throat.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Foreign object in the esophagus or trachea Foreign object in the esophagus or trac...If you swallow a foreign object, it can get stuck along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract from the esophagus (swallowing tube) to the colon (large inte...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Swallowing a harsh chemical liquid Changes in the larynx during puberty Thyroid or lung cancer ThyroidThyroid cancer is a cancer that starts in the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located inside the front of your lower neck.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Lung cancerLung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The lungs are located in the chest. When you breathe, air goes through your nose, down your windpipe...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Underactive thyroid gland Underactive thyroid glandHypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. This condition is often called underactive thyroid....ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Immobility of one or both vocal cords Home Care Hoarseness may be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic). Rest and time may improve hoarseness. Hoarseness that continues for weeks or months should be checked by a health care provider.AcuteAcute means sudden or severe. Acute symptoms appear, change, or worsen rapidly. It is the opposite of chronic.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article ChronicChronic refers to something that continues over an extended period of time. A chronic condition is usually long-lasting and does not easily or quick...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Things you can do at home to help relieve the problem include:Talk only when you need to until hoarseness goes away. Drink plenty of fluids to help keep your airways moist. (Gargling does not help.) Use a vaporizer to add moisture to the air you breathe. Avoid actions that strain the vocal cords such as whispering, shouting, crying, and singing. Take medicines to reduce stomach acid if hoarseness is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). DO NOT use decongestants which can dry out the vocal cords. If you smoke, cut down, or stop at least until hoarseness goes away. When to Contact a Medical Professional Call your provider if:You have trouble breathing or swallowing. Hoarseness occurs with drooling, particularly in a small child. Hoarseness occurs in a child less than 3 months old. Hoarseness has lasted for more than 1 week in a child, or 2 to 3 weeks in an adult. What to Expect at Your Office Visit The provider will examine your throat, neck, and mouth and ask you some questions about your symptoms and medical history. These may include: To what extent have you lost your voice (all or partially)? What kind of vocal problems are you having (making scratchy, breathy, or husky vocal sounds)? When did hoarseness start? Does hoarseness come and go or get worse over time? Have you been shouting, singing, or overusing your voice, or crying a lot (if a child)? Have you been exposed to harsh fumes or liquids? Do you have allergies or a post nasal drip? Have you ever had throat surgery? Do you smoke or use alcohol? Do you have other symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, weight loss, or fatigue? You may have one or more of the following tests:Laryngoscopy LaryngoscopyLaryngoscopy is an exam of the voice box (larynx). It can be done using a small mirror held just below the back of your palate, or a rigid or flexib...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Throat culture Throat cultureA throat swab culture is a laboratory test that is done to identify germs that may cause infection in the throat. It is most often used to diagnose ...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Throat examination with a small mirror X-rays of the neck or CT scan X-rays of the neckA neck x-ray is an imaging test to look at cervical vertebrae. These are the 7 bones of the spine in the neck.ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article CT scanA computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging method that uses x-rays to create pictures of cross-sections of the body. Related tests include:Abdomin...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Blood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) or blood differentialCBCA complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The tota...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Blood differentialThe blood differential test measures the percentage of each type of white blood cell (WBC) that you have in your blood. It also reveals if there are...ImageRead Article Now Book Mark Article Open ReferencesReferencesAkst L. Hoarseness and laryngitis. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2021. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2021:27-32.Flint PW. Throat disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 401.Stachler RJ, Francis DO, Schwartz SR, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: Hoarseness (Dysphonia) (Update). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2018;158(1_suppl):S1-S42. PMID: 29494321 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29494321.AllVideoImagesTogThroat anatomy - illustration Structures of the throat include the esophagus, trachea, epiglottis and tonsils.Throat anatomyillustrationThroat anatomy - illustration Structures of the throat include the esophagus, trachea, epiglottis and tonsils.Throat anatomyillustrationRelated Information Review Date: 12/31/2020 Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. 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