Hoarseness (Dysphonia) is a change in the sound of a person’s voice, they may experience a husky or strained voice. Loudness and pitch may also be affected. A complete loss of voice is known as Aphonia.
When we talk or sing, our vocal cords vibrate by coming together which creates sound which we know as our voice. When the vocal chords of the voice box (larynx) don’t work correctly it creates hoarseness. Hoarseness can be caused by several factors:
– Laryngitis, a viral upper respiratory tract infection which causes swelling of the lining of the voice box.
– Throat irritation caused by stomach acid (laryngopharyngeal reflux).
– Polyps or nodules developing on the vocal chords, these may develop when the voice is used too much or too loudly for extended periods of time, which is why singers sometimes suffer from the condition. Polyps of the vocal chords are often seen in smokers.
– Lung strength can affect changes in the voice.
– A growth or tumour in rare cases, can develop on the vocal cords and/or voice box which may or may not be cancerous.
– Paralysis of the vocal chords can be resultant from nerve damage caused by infection or a tumour.
If you have prolonged hoarseness lasting four weeks or more, repeated episodes of hoarseness without reason or a prolonged sore throat which may be accompanied by difficulty swallowing for more than two weeks, it is important than you see a GP for urgent medical advice.