Hoarseness is having difficulty producing sound when trying to speak, or a change in the pitch or quality of the voice. The voice may sound weak, very breathy, scratchy, or husky.
Voice strain; Dysphonia; Loss of voice
Hoarseness is usually caused by a problem in the vocal cords. Most cases of hoarseness occur with swelling (inflammation) of the larynx (laryngitis).
Hoarseness that continues for weeks or months should be checked by a health care provider. Although some causes are minor, more serious causes, such as
- Acid reflux (
gastroesophageal reflux) Allergies
- Breathing in irritating substances
- Cancer of the throat or larynx
- Colds or upper respiratory infections
- Heavy smoking or drinking, especially together
- Overuse or abuse of the voice (as in shouting or singing)
Other causes include:
Aneurysmsof the upper aorta
- Breathing tube or
bronchoscopy Damage to the nerves attached to the voice Foreign object in the esophagus or trachea
- Ingesting a harsh chemical liquid
Thyroidor lung cancer Underactive thyroid gland
- Vocal cord
- Weakness of muscles around the voice box caused by nerve or muscle disorders
Review Date: 11/23/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Unviersity of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.