Hoarseness is a condition resulting in a rough or harsh sound to the voice.
What is going on in the body?
Hoarseness may be caused by many things. Hoarseness may be acute (of short duration) or chronic (of long duration).
In understanding what is happening in the body, the healthcare provider will want to know the answers to these questions:
How long has the hoarseness been present?
What was happening before the hoarseness started? Were there any other symptoms?
Has the person been over-using or straining the voice?
Has the person been experiencing shortness of breath, sore throat, dry mouth, cough, or difficulty swallowing dry food?
Has the person been near or in a fire within the past 48 hours?
Has the person tried anything at home to make the hoarseness better?
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Causes of hoarseness vary but may include:
upper respiratory infection, such as a sinus infection
gastroesophageal reflux disease. If a person has reflux, juices from the stomach may go up the esophagus, or food pipe. The gastric juice can irritate the throat, causing hoarseness along with a sensation of a lump in the throat.
hypothyroidism, a condition in which there is too little thyroid hormone circulating in the bloodstream
injury caused by inhaling smoke
laryngeal cancer, or cancer of the vocal cords
laryngitis, or inflammation of the vocal cords
rheumatoid arthritis, a condition in which the joints are painful and swollen
Sjogren syndrome, which is a disorder producing hoarseness, dry eyes, and dry mouth
thoracic aortic aneurysm, which is an abnormal enlargement of a blood vessel
trauma or injury to the windpipe
paralysis of the vocal cords
presence of nodules on the vocal cords
medical treatments such as surgery in the area of the vocal cords
childhood infections such as croup
smoking or alcohol consumption