Reasons Why Your Voice Is Hoarse (And What to Do About It)

Reasons Why Your Voice Is Hoarse (And What to Do About It)

Do you lose your voice sometimes? Perhaps you've developed frequent hoarseness. You may wonder why your voice has become rough, raspy, and sometimes hard to understand. 

Hoarseness can be an impediment in the business world as well as in your social life. You don’t want to be embarrassed when a weak, guttural sound comes out of your mouth instead of your regular voice.

Dr. Nilesh Patel, board-certified otolaryngologist, treats many cases of hoarseness. Dr. Patel gets to the root cause of your discomfort and implements a treatment plan promptly. 

Hoarseness can signal any of the following ailments, which range from minor illnesses to serious diseases. Seeing a doctor who specializes in ear, nose, and throat disorders helps ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. Treating hoarseness depends on its cause, which varies greatly. 

Allergies

Allergies can be a year-round health issue, causing laryngitis, or inflammation of your larynx.  They can produce hoarseness as well as other typical allergy symptoms like watery eyes and nasal congestion. Each season brings different types of pollen to the fore, from trees in the spring to grasses in the summer and mold in the fall and winter. 

Depending on your symptoms, Dr. Patel determines when the time is right to administer allergy tests to see if an allergen is causing your voice problem. If over-the-counter and prescription medications don’t work, Dr. Patel can administer allergy shots. You gradually develop tolerance to the allergen, greatly lessening or eliminating your discomfort. 

Infections 

If you have hoarseness along with a painful sore throat that’s very inflamed, Dr. Patel takes a swab to determine whether you have strep throat. In that case, he prescribes an antibiotic and may recommend other medication. 

If you have a cough, a runny nose, and a hoarse voice, you may have a viral infection. If you have a virus, antibiotics won’t help. Resting your voice, hydrating, and humidifying the air you breathe helps relieve your symptoms. Dr. Patel may prescribe medication to ease your symptoms.

GERD

It may surprise you to learn that hoarseness is a sign of gastroesophageal acid reflux, or GERD. 

If Dr. Patel suspects GERD, he may perform a procedure called an upper endoscopy. Using mild sedation, Dr. Patel inserts a small tube with a camera so that he can examine your esophagus, stomach, and upper small intestine to see if there is inflammation or another problem. 

He may perform a biopsy, taking a tiny piece of esophageal tissue to see if any precancerous cells are present. 

Sometimes GERD can be controlled by changing lifestyle habits, including food and beverages. Reducing your consumption of fried and fatty foods and cutting back on carbonated sodas can make a big difference. Caffeine is another trigger for some patients.  

Taking over-the-counter antacids occasionally is alright, but they shouldn’t be used long term, as they can cause other health complications. Dr. Patel may prescribe medications that lessen or block stomach acids from moving back into your esophagus. 

Growths on your vocal cords

You could have noncancerous cysts, nodules, polyps, or warts on your vocal cords, causing your raspy voice. If you have a polyp, cyst, or wart, the treatment is likely surgery. 

If you’re a teacher, coach, actor, or anyone who uses your voice a lot, you may develop a nodule. Dr. Patel may write a prescription for voice therapy to help you change habits that have led to the nodules. 

Cancer

While fairly rare, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer, and throat cancer can result in hoarseness. Dr. Patel performs a biopsy if he suspects cancer.  

Call the office of Nilesh Patel, MD or book an appointment through our online portal today if your voice is frequently hoarse.

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