How is the condition diagnosed?
In evaluating hoarseness, the healthcare provider usually will take a complete medical history. Any symptoms associated with the hoarseness will also be discussed. The person may be asked if there is a history of other illnesses or conditions, such as cancer, arthritis, or aneurysm. A physical exam will also be done.
The mouth and throat will be examined for redness, swelling, or drainage of pus. The neck will be felt for swollen glands, lymph nodes, thyroid enlargement, or other lumps in the neck. The healthcare provider may ask the person to stick out his or her tongue. If this is extremely difficult, there may be paralysis of one of the cranial nerves.
The eyes may be examined for ulcers or other problems. The neck and chest may be examined for enlarged veins possibly indicating an thoracic aortic aneurysm. Vital signs, including pulse, rate of breathing, temperature, and blood pressure will also be monitored to evaluate for infection.
A laryngoscopy may also be necessary. This test involves putting a special tube with a down a person's throat. This allows the healthcare provider to see the throat and vocal cords to determine if there are problems. Blood tests and sputum cultures also may be ordered to identify infections.