Have you ever opened your mouth to speak, only for a whisper or a croak to come out? This symptom is known as hoarseness. Hoarseness describes vocal fatigue, vocal breaks or abnormal voice. We review what’s happening in your body when you’re hoarse, how long you should wait to seek care and how to care for your voice below.
Causes of Hoarse Voice
Some of the many causes of hoarse voice include:
- Upper respiratory tract infection like a cold, sinusitis, bronchitis or laryngitis.
- Allergies caused by exposure to dust mites, mold, pollen or other allergens.
- Overuse of voice, either by using your voice for hours at a time or straining it while cheering for your favorite sports team at Prudential Center.
According to one 2015 study, “Hoarseness can be caused by acute (42.1%) and chronic laryngitis (9.7%), functional vocal disturbances (30%), and benign (10.7–31%) and malignant tumors (2.2–3%), as well as by neurogenic disturbances such as vocal cord paresis (2.8–8%), physiologic aging of the voice (2%), and psychogenic factors (2–2.2 %).”
When to Seek Care for Hoarse Voice
If your hoarse voice continues beyond your respiratory infection or allergic reaction, or if it persists more than two weeks past your vocal overuse, schedule an appointment with your doctor. They may conduct a laryngoscopy to examine your larynx. It may be the case that something more serious is going on.
How to Care for Your Voice
There are no quick fixes to get your voice back to healthy, but there are strategies that can help, including:
- Resting your voice as much as possible. Try to avoid talking as much as possible. When you do have to use your voice, talk quietly, but don’t whisper.
- Being somewhere quiet so that you don’t have to talk loudly to be heard.
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids (other than alcohol and caffeine).
- Using a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air, which will help soothe inflamed vocal cords.
- Taking medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce discomfort and inflammation.
For more information about hoarseness or to schedule an appointment with a voice expert, call Speech & Hearing Associates today.