Hoarseness

Definition

Hoarseness 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, which are part of your voice box (larynx) 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 sinus infection, which usually goes away on its own
within 2 weeks.

Another rare, but serious cause of hoarseness that does not go away in a few weeks is cancer of the voice box.

Causes

Less common causes include:

          

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.

Things you can do at home to help relieve the problem include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The doctor will examine your throat, neck, and mouth and ask you some questions about your symptoms and medical history, including:

You may have one or more of the following tests:


Review Date: 11/9/2012
Reviewed By: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

This information 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. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. © 1997- 2007 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.