An alteration in production of the voice which impairs social and professional communication can be a significant concern. About 30% of people will experience an episode of hoarseness at some point in their lives. Higher rates affect certain professions more commonly, such as teachers.
A variety of ailments can affect the larynx (voice box) and cause hoarseness. Voice abuse such as loud or prolonged talking, gastroesophageal reflux, smoking, post-nasal drainage from allergy or sinus issues, and generalized neurologic disorders can all affect the larynx and cause abnormal voice issues. Structural problems with the larynx such as vocal cord nodules, polyps, tumors, and cysts can also be issues as well.
The most efficient way to evaluate voice issues is to examine the voice box itself. This can be done with either mirrors, or a small flexible tube which can easily be inserted through the nose to examine the lower throat. Depending on the results, further voice analysis, or more sophisticated visualization may be necessary.
While many causes of hoarseness are self-limited, there are a variety of treatment options available. Changes in medication may be effective. Treatment of reflux disease can be helpful as well. Surgery to remove abnormal growths, as well as to reposition vocal cords, can significantly improve voice quality. Treatment of tumors can frequently result in improved voice quality as well.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call your doctor or request an appointment with Dr. Hoyt.