By Dr. Nishit Shah, Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT)
Hoarseness in the simplest sense means, ‘hoarse voice’. It may be defined as an abnormal voice change. It is experienced in the form of strained, rough, thick, harsh and grating voice. Variations can be felt even in the loudness and pitch of the voice.
Hoarseness is a temporary infection associated with the larynx, which is also known as the voice box in animals as well as humans. Vocal cords are present inside the voice box. Depending on the vibration of the vocal cord, different sounds are produced.
What are the general causes of hoarseness?
Hoarseness may be caused by common cold, viral infection, cough, irritation due to screaming, smoking, allergy, thyroid problem, acute laryngitis and benign tumor. In adults, the stomach asset comes up to the throat causing hoarseness. Heartburn can also be one of the causes.
When hoarseness arises due to common cold and cough, it will last for 2 to 3 days and will subside using cough suppressant and home remedies like salt water gargling, drinking hot milk with turmeric and pepper powder. As cough or cold suppress, hoarseness will also reduce.
When to see an Otolaryngologist (ENT specialist)?
Serious infections in ear nose and throat are treated by an otolaryngologist. It is very essential to consult this specialist if hoarseness lasts for more than 2 to 3 weeks; pain in ENT is not due to cold or flu, coughing up blood, lump in the neck.
Evaluation: The medical specialist starts his diagnosis by physically examining the vocal cord. Flexible light weight fiber optic tube scope is also used to visually examine the larynx area. Videotaping, acoustic analysis is also done to study voice irregularities, airflow to guide treatment.
How can hoarseness be treated?
The mode of treatments depends on underlying the cause of the problem. The patient may be advised:
- In most cases, hoarseness can be treated just by resting your throat or modifying the use of your voice.
- To avoid smoking or passive smoking
- Referred to a speech therapist to improve sound of voice.
- In case of benign tumor the nodule or polyp is removed by surgery.
How can you prevent hoarseness?
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘prevention is better than cure’. Alas, it is. Preventing hoarse voice and throat is a much better option than treating it. Here are some tips on how to prevent hoarseness:
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol.
- Consume plenty of water
- Avoid eating spicy food.
- Avoid speaking loudly for long intervals of time.