Has your voice suddenly become hoarse? Although nearly everyone experiences hoarseness from time to time, the symptoms improve on their own in a few weeks in most cases. If your hoarseness continues longer than two or three weeks, it's a good idea to pay a visit to Dr. Giulio Cavalli, your ear, nose, and throat doctor in Pittsfield, MA. Dr. Cavalli can help you determine the cause of your hoarseness and recommend appropriate treatment options.
Why am I hoarse?
Diagnosing your condition starts with a head and neck examination and a discussion of your symptoms and your medical history. Your Pittsfield ENT may also examine your vocal cords using a thin, flexible scope that contains a light and a miniature camera. The scope is passed through your nose and into the upper part of your throat.
Common causes of hoarseness include:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) or laryngopharyngeal reflux disorder (LRP)
- Normal effects of aging
- Singing or yelling for extended periods
- Colds and upper respiratory infections
- Seasonal or food allergies
- Benign polyps, nodules or cysts on your larynx (voice box)
- Trauma to your throat and larynx
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Thyroid disease
Although hoarseness can be caused by cancer, changes in your voice are more often caused by other health problems.
What treatments are available for hoarseness?
Treatment for hoarseness depends on the cause of your symptoms. If you have GERD or LRP, you may benefit from taking medications that decrease stomach acid production. Treating allergies, quitting smoking, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke can be helpful, as can drinking more water and increasing the humidity in your home. Hoarseness caused by an underlying illness or condition may be improved by treating that condition.
A few sessions with a speech pathologist may be recommended if hoarseness occurs due to overuse of your larynx. The speech pathologist can help you change the way you produce sounds to prevent straining your vocal cords. Surgery may be needed if hoarseness is caused by a cyst, polyp or tumor.
Are you concerned about hoarseness? Call Dr. Giulio Cavalli, your ENT doctor in Pittsfield, MA, at (413) 443-6116 to schedule an appointment.