A sore throat and hoarse voice is one of the most common issues patients seek attention for. In many cases, these symptoms are the result of respiratory illness, such as a cold. As a result, it’s easy to sometimes brush these symptoms off as part of cold, flu, or even allergy season.
However, in some cases chronic hoarseness and sore throats may be a sign of very serious health issues affecting your esophagus and larynx (a.k.a. Your throat and voice box). Because of this, as tempting as it is to brush off hoarseness as part of “just another bad day,” it’s important that you visit an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist if you begin experiencing chronic problems with your throat and voice.
Hoarseness as a Symptom
A hoarse voice can be a symptom of a variety of medical problems. These health issues range from simple and easily treated, to others that are quite serious. At Laurel ENT, we always want to make sure that any hoarseness you’re experiencing isn’t due to one of the more serious causes. Examples of some serious causes of voice issues we would want to treat and address in our patients include:
- Nodules on the vocal chords
- Growths in the throat (which can be malignant or benign)
- A history of smoking
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Thyroid problems
- Throat cancer
Diagnosing a Hoarse Voice
While hoarseness isn’t always a serious symptom, it can be a sign of a serious health problem if it doesn’t resolve itself within a few days. Because so many different conditions and illnesses can cause a hoarse voice, it’s important to visit a doctor to ensure that it’s not something serious.
Anyone experiencing persistent problems with their voice should make an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist that can evaluate your throat in-depth. These specialists are able to closely examine your throat, using equipment that isn’t available in a general family doctor’s office.
Problems that deserve medical attention to rule out a serious underlying cause include:
- If you sing, but can’t talk afterward
- If you use your voice a lot
- If your voice suddenly changes and doesn’t sound the same
- If you have a history of smoking
When you visit Laurel ENT, we will first ask for your medical history in order to see if you have any warning signs of conditions that may cause hoarseness. Next, we’ll take a look at your throat and vocal cords, possibly even using specialized tools and scopes to get a better look at the inner workings of your larynx.
Treating a Hoarse Throat
Ultimately, treatment will depend on the cause of your symptoms. Treating a hoarse voice could be as simple as making behavioral changes. For example, you may be asked to quit or reduce smoking, drink more water, or go on “vocal rest” and refrain from talking. More serious conditions, however, may be need to be evaluated or treated by a specialist.
Once you’ve been examined by an ENT doctor, they’ll have a better idea if your hoarseness is caused by an ear, nose or throat problem, or if you’ll need to talk to an additional specialist. Steps will be taken from then on to ensure that you receive the care you need, whatever the underlying cause of your chronic sore throat or hoarse voice.
Image courtesy of : https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Throat_Diagram.png