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Hoarse Voice - What Are Its Causes And Treatment Options?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Suven Kalra 89% (27 ratings)
MBBS, MS - ENT, Fellowship In Otology
ENT Specialist, Delhi  •  13 years experience
Hoarse Voice - What Are Its Causes And Treatment Options?

Any kind of abnormal change in the voice of a person is termed as hoarseness. It is a harsh, strained or raspy voice coupled with a change in the pitch and volume. Hoarseness is often caused by a variety of conditions such as allergies, GERD, smoking and thyroid. It has been noted that that hoarseness is not a medical condition but a symptom of a disease. For you to get a clearer picture of the condition, here are some of the causes and possible treatment measures for the condition. 

Causes of Hoarse Voice 
The conditions which result in hoarse voice as one of their symptoms include: 

  1. Laryngitis: This is one of the most common conditions that cause hoarseness. In this condition, the vocal cords become inflamed which is mostly due to a viral infection. This problem is worsened due to other problems like reflux of acid from stomach into the throat and environmental pollution. Strep throat and epiglottitis are specific types of Laryngitis caused by a particular virus or affliction of a particular site in the voice box. 
  2. Vocal nodules: In this condition small nodules develop on the Vocal cords. Also known as Singer’s nodules, these are common in professional singers, teachers and other professionals who overuse their voice. 
  3. Vocal Polyps: These are small masses that may develop on the vocal cords and prevent them from vibrating normally resulting in a hoarse voice. They may be a result of repeated episodes of laryngitis or acid reflux
  4. Myasthenia Gravis: In this condition, the muscles become weak. This is basically a neuromuscular disorder and hoarseness in voice is one of its symptoms. 
  5. Vocal cord paralysis: One of the two vocal cords may stop moving and lose its function. This can be due to a variety of conditions like thyroid gland swelling, tuberculosis or tumors
  6. Throat Cancer: Hoarseness of voice is one of the earliest signs of cancer of the voice box. If caught early this type of cancer can be treated. Smokers beware! 

Treatment of Hoarse Voice 
Some of the treatment measures for hoarse voice are: 

  1. Medication – General medication to reduce swelling of the vocal cords, medicines to reduce reflux of acid from stomach into the throat, medicines to reduce pain and strain in the voice box are generally recommend. 
  2. Surgery Certain conditions like Vocal polyps, nodules need to be removed surgically. Micro-laryngeal surgery is used for such type of lesions. Using a microscope with laser and without any external cuts or stitches these problems can be tacled easily. 
  3. Phonosurgery This is a highly specialized type of surgery using which a surgeon can make your voice more like you want it. The pitch of voice can be altered surgically, Meaning that your voice can be made more masculine, more feminine, deeper or more shrill according to your preference. 
  4. Cancer treatment – Depending upon the stage of throat cancer the treatment varies and may include surgery or radiotherapy or both. 
  5. Voice rest and Vocal hygiene – Along with the primary treatment depending upon the exact cause of hoarseness, measures like voice rest and speech exercises to improve voice may be advised by your doctor. The right cause and the right treatment for your hoarse voice can only be determined by a doctor. 

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