Hoarseness is an abnormal change in the voice. The voice can become breathy, raspy, strained, or show changes in volume or pitch. Hoarseness is most commonly caused by acute laryngitis or swelling of the vocal cords. This can result from a common cold, upper respiratory tract infection or voice strain.

Voice misuse can also lead to serious injury of the vocal cords and can be prevented. Other causes of hoarseness include vocal cord lesions, vocal hemorrhage, gastroeophageal reflux, laryngopharyngeal reflux, smoking, allergies, thyroid problems and trauma to the voice box.

Common activities that misuse the voice are speaking in noisy situations, using the voice excessively, using the telephone with the handset cradled to the shoulder, using an inappropriate pitch when speaking, and not using amplification when giving a speech to an audience.

An ENT specialist will examine the throat using a laryngoscope to determine the cause. Rest is most often used to treat hoarseness, but an otolaryngologist may also make lifestyle change suggestions.

If you or someone you care for is experiencing hoarseness, please contact our North Sioux City office at (605) 217-4327 to schedule an appointment.