Hoarseness

Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD

Otolaryngology located in Jasper, IN

Having trouble talking can be extremely frustrating as speech is our primary form of communication, and in addition, it can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, painful. Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD, of Jasper, Indiana, is an otolaryngologist with extensive expertise in diagnosing and treating the causes of hoarseness. If you’re experiencing difficulties with your voice, call Dr. Ehrhard’s office or schedule an appointment online today.

Hoarseness Q & A

What is hoarseness?

Hoarseness is when you have problems speaking because your voice is weak or muffled. It can affect the pitch and quality of your voice, making it lower or huskier, and people with hoarseness often sound breathy.

Hoarseness is usually due to problems with your vocal cords, which are part of the larynx in the back of your throat. If your vocal cords get infected or inflamed, swelling distorts the production of sound, and the result is hoarseness.

What conditions lead to hoarseness?

Colds and sinusitis often cause hoarseness, which resolves itself when you recover from the illness. Other conditions that can lead to hoarseness include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD)
  • Allergies
  • Cancer in your throat, lung, or thyroid gland
  • Hypothyroidism

In addition to the above causes, hoarseness can be caused by irritation or damage to your vocal cords due to:

  • Use of breathing tubes during surgery or for emergency medical care
  • Nerve damage
  • Foreign objects in your throat
  • Swallowing harmful liquids
  • Breathing in fibers and other irritants
  • Smoker’s cough

Excessive shouting or singing can also cause hoarseness, as your vocal cords swell when overused and may gradually develop nodules or polyps.

When should I see a doctor for a hoarse voice?

Hoarseness is usually temporary, disappearing when you recover from the respiratory tract infection or acute inflammation that caused it. However, you should visit Dr. Ehrhard if your hoarseness lasts more than a couple of weeks, you’re drooling, or you’re also having problems with swallowing or breathing.

How is hoarseness treated?

Temporary hoarseness as a result of infection or irritation is best treated by resting your vocal cords and keeping them moist by using steam and drinking plenty of fluids. If the hoarseness is due to GERD, medicines to reduce stomach acid should help, and you should also avoid decongestants as they tend to dry the lining of your throat.

If your hoarseness persists, you should make an appointment with Dr. Ehrhard. He checks your medical history and examines you, looking down your throat with a special mirror. He may then order one or more diagnostic tests such as:

  • Throat culture
  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • Complete blood count
  • Blood differential test
  • Laryngoscopy

Once you have a confirmed diagnosis, Dr. Ehrhard can prescribe the appropriate treatment to cure your hoarseness.

For expert help with your hoarseness, call the office of Dr. Robert A. Ehrhard, MD, or schedule an appointment online today.