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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
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:
benign vocal cord nodules, cysts or polyps,
gastroesophageal reflux (GERD),
inhalation of respiratory tract irritants,
trauma to the larynx/vocal cords,
conditions (such as Parkinson's disease and