Hoarseness - Symptoms, Causes and Treatments
What Is Hoarseness?
Hoarseness is a condition that causes a person's vocal cords to produce a sound that may or may not be natural. People with hoarseness frequently experience ear, nose, and throat symptoms such as severe coughs and bouts of voice loss.
Some people also experience chest discomfort, extreme fatigue, trouble breathing, or headaches as side effects of hoarseness. Hoarseness may occur as the result of an infection in the upper airway or as a result of some other underlying medical condition.
In this article, we will discuss some potential causes and treatments for voice loss from hoarsening along with understanding how it can affect your life on a day-to-day basis.
It is estimated that roughly 20-30% of the adult population suffers from hoarseness at some point in their lives. In addition, most hoarse people are aware of the reason for their condition and can talk with a hoarse voice most of the time.
However, people whose hoarseness persists over time may need to attend to issues such as vocal nodules or tumors or may be experiencing an underlying infection. Hearing loss is not necessarily caused by hoarseness, however.
Hoarseness can affect both your hearing and speaking ability if it interferes with your normal voice production process. For example, musicians and singers may experience some degree of hearing loss while they continue to sing or play music.
People who suffer from vocal cord paralysis or tumors will also likely experience some degree of hearing loss associated with their condition.
Hearing loss is the main symptom of hoarseness and occurs when the patient experiences inflammation of their vocal cords. The vocal cords can be injured in several ways such as overuse, respiratory infections, trauma to the throat, and tumors that block or alter airflow through the throat.
Infections that require the patient to take antibiotics and steroids over a long period may also lead to hoarseness and hearing loss due to immune system compromise.
Depending upon the cause of the hoarseness, treatment options can vary. For instance, people who suffer from vocal fold nodules may require surgery to remove the growths that affect their ability to produce sound.
In addition, individuals who experience chronic inflammation or swelling of their vocal cords may require steroid treatments to reduce their symptoms.
In these cases, patients who suffer from hearing loss as a result of hoarseness will often require hearing aids or cochlear implants to retain and restore normal hearing capabilities.
The use of these devices typically brings about a much higher quality of life by allowing those with hearing loss to communicate more effectively and enjoy music and other sounds as they were intended.
What Causes Hoarseness?
Hoarseness is a common condition that can result from a variety of underlying medical conditions. For example, people who experience frequent bouts of laryngitis usually develop long-term hoarseness due to permanent damage to the vocal cords and surrounding area.
Other medical conditions such as leukemia and viral infection can also cause hoarseness and eventual loss of voice altogether. People who use their voices professionally such as singers and teachers may also experience hearing loss if their vocal cords are damaged in any way.
Are There Any Signs Or Symptoms That May Indicate Hoarseness?
The most common symptom associated with hoarse voice is hearing loss. The patient may also experience a change in their quality of hearing, especially if they are using their voice regularly.
When the condition is extreme, patients may experience hoarseness as well as tinnitus or even dizziness. A hoarse voice may also cause severe coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, night sweats, and other symptoms.
How Long Can Hoarseness Last?
Hoarseness is generally considered to be a temporary condition that occurs for no apparent reason and is expected to resolve on its own within a few weeks.
However, some people may find that their hoarseness persists over time even with no apparent underlying cause. In these cases, it is important to determine the root cause of the hoarseness to find a solution for this condition.
Is Hoarseness Serious?
Hoarseness can be a symptom of a serious medical condition. For example, people who experience hoarseness while they are undergoing cancer treatment will generally require specialized treatments to reduce their symptoms and restore their voice.
In other cases, people who experience frequent bouts of laryngitis may need to seek treatment from a professional vocal coach to prevent further damage from occurring within the throat area.