Hoarseness

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

View the Heartburn Foods to Avoid Slideshow

Quick GuideOral Health: Dry Mouth Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Oral Health: Dry Mouth Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hoarseness facts

  • Hoarseness is an abnormal change in the voice.
  • The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis.
  • The underlying cause of hoarseness can usually be diagnosed by a health care professional based on the patient's history and physical exam.
  • The treatment for hoarseness depends on the underlying cause.
  • Hoarseness can be prevented by avoiding excessive strenuous voice use and smoking cessation.

What is hoarseness?

Hoarseness is an abnormal change in the voice caused by a variety of conditions. The voice may have changes in pitch and volume, ranging from a deep, harsh voice to a weak, raspy voice.

What causes hoarseness?

Hoarseness is generally caused by irritation of, or injury to, the vocal cords. The larynx (also referred to as the voice box), is the portion of the respiratory (breathing) tract containing the vocal cords. The cartilaginous outer wall of the larynx is commonly referred to as the "Adams apple." The vocal cords are two bands of muscle that form a "V" inside the larynx. When we sing or speak, the vocal cords vibrate and produce sound.

Picture of the Larynx
Picture of the Larynx

Hoarseness can be caused by a number of conditions. The most common cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis (inflammation of the vocal cords) caused most often by an upper respiratory tract infection (usually viral), and less commonly from overuse or misuse of the voice (such as from yelling or singing).

Other causes of hoarseness include:

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/5/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Hoarseness - Causes

    If known, what was the cause of your hoarseness? Please describe your experience.

    Post View 18 Comments
  • Hoarseness - Treatments

    Please share treatments, including home remedies, that have been effective when you lose your voice.

    Post View 4 Comments
  • Hoarseness - Experience

    Please describe your experience with hoarseness?

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Hoarseness - Signs and Symptoms

    What were the signs and symptoms you experienced with hoarseness?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors