Find out when you should seek medical attention for a hoarse voice.
We’ve all heard how raspy our voices get the day after singing our lungs out at our favorite concert. We also know that certain winter infections can also affect our voice; however, what if you notice that your voice is regularly scratchy or raspy? Here’s what you should know about hoarseness and when you may need to see one of our Northampton, Ware, and Springfield, MA, otolaryngologists.
There are many reasons why someone may experience hoarseness including,
- Overuse or straining your voice: shouting at a game or singing loudly at a concert
- Laryngitis: can be caused by a cold, respiratory infection or allergies
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): frequent or chronic heartburn and acid reflux can irritate the tissue in the back of the throat, as well as the vocal cords
- Vocal cysts or polyps: these benign growths that develop on the vocal cords are more common in singers
- Vocal fold hemorrhage: if you’ve immediately lost your voice after intense vocal straining you could be dealing with a hemorrhage in the vocal cords
Other less common causes include,
- Larynx injury
- Laryngeal cancer (rare)
- Thyroid problems
- Neurological conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s disease; stroke)
When should I see a doctor?
You should schedule an appointment with our ENT doctor if you’re dealing with hoarseness that hasn’t gone away within three weeks. If you have a respiratory infection or cold that isn’t going away it’s particularly important that you see a doctor.
If you are experiencing other symptoms such as pain or trouble swallowing, difficulty speaking or a lump in the throat it’s important that you see a doctor as soon as possible.
What should I expect when I come into the office?
First, your otolaryngologist will go through your medical history and ask you questions about your hoarseness and symptoms you are experiencing. From there, they may be able to rule out certain causes and determine which diagnostic tests need to be performed.
In most cases, your otolaryngologist will examine your throat with an endoscope to examine the vocal folds to look for inflammation, injury, a hemorrhage or nodule. Your doctor may recommend additional tests in order to fully determine what’s going on and how to best treat it.
Ear Nose & Throat, Surgeons of Western New England has offices in Springfield, Northampton and Mary Lane Hospital, MA, to serve you. If you are dealing with any of the issues above don’t hesitate to call one of our offices. In Springfield, phone (413) 732-7426. In Northhampton, call (413) 586-2033, and for the Mary Lane Hospital location, call (413) 967-2249.