Below, we will talk about the most common causes of hoarseness. If you have recurrent hoarseness attacks or a long-lasting hoarseness, then please consult an ENT specialist.
1. Acute Laryngitis
It is the most common cause of hoarseness and sudden loss of voice. This disesase is an infection that causes the swelling of the vocal cords and mostly generates from the viruses. By the swelling of the vocal cords, the vibration is impaired and thus the hoarseness occurs. The best treatment in such case is plenty of fluid intake, resting and minimizing the use of voice. If you force your voice during acute laryngitis, then you might damage your vocal cords significantly. Since the most frequent factor is the viruses, it is unnecessary to take antibiotics. Bacterial infection of vocal cords is pretty rare and it is usually accompanied by shorthness of breath.
2. Chronic Laryngitis
Chronic laryngitis is not a specific term. Generally, reflux, exposure to irritants like cigarettes, chronic inhaler medication usage (as the asthma patients do), fungal infections of vocal cords in chemotherapy receiving cancer patients or in patients with weak immune system, might lead to chronic laryngitis.
Rexlux, is ascending of the acidic content in the stomach towards the throat region via esophageous and causing various symptoms. Hoarseness, difficulty in swallowing, feeling of sticking in the throat, sore throat, burning, ticklish cough are the most common indications (Explained in detail under ‘Gastroesophageal Reflux’).
4. Poor and Excessive Usage of the Voice
Talking too loud, screaming, talking continously for long a long period of time cause degradation of voice and speaking difficulty. This situation is usually seen with people who use their voices to perform their duties. Such as singers, speakers, preachers, call-center workers and etc. Individuals, who use their voices poorly and excessively, are more prone to benign lesions and vocal cord bleedings.
5. Benign Vocal Cord Formations (Benign Vocal Cord Lesions)
These are usually benign growths that are related to incorrect usage of the voice. They perch on the vocal cords and cause hoarseness by impairing the vibration. The most common ones are vocal cord nodules, polyps and cysts. Vocal cord nodules are also known as “singers’ nodules”. They usually dwell on both vocal cords accross from each other. Generally treated by voice therapy or surgically. Even though the vocal cord polyps and cysts generate due to poor usage of the voice, some patients do not have a history of poor voice usage. Polyps and cysts are generally treated with microsurgery. For some patients, voice therapy is added to the treatment.
6. Vocal Cord Bleeding
Generally shows itself with a sudden loss of voice after screaming profoundly. It emerges due to bleeding of thin superficial veins on the vocal cords after cappilary cracks.
This requires absolute voice resting. It is imperative for the patient not to talk until the bleeding goes away.
7. Vocal Cord Paralysis
Vocal Cord Paralysis usually occur following a viral infection, neck (especially thyroid surgeries) and chest surgeries either as a result of the tumors located around the nerves providing the vibration of vocal cords or unknown reasons. While most of the patients recover in moths, in some cases the paralysis might be permanent. Surgical operation might be a possibility for such patients. There are different types of treatment. In spite of the fact that these treatments would not ensure the vibration of vocal cord, they weigh in on the regeneration of the patient’s voice.
8. Throat Cancer
Throat cancer is possibly the most important cause of hoarseness. Even though it is less common in comparison to the other causes, if a long-lasting hoarseness is accompanied by alcohol and tobacco use and if there is family history, then an ear, nose and throat consultation is necessary. With early diagnosis, throat cancer is a treatable disease. Treatment options vary based on the stage of the disease. Multidisciplinary approach by ear, nose and throat, pathology, radiology, oncology, general surgery, plastic surgery and such fields, plays an important role in throat cancer treatment.