Hoarseness is a general term that describes an abnormality in the voice. When your voice is hoarse, you may sound strained, breathy, raspy, or change in pitch frequently. The changes may be caused by disorders affecting the vocal cords, which produce the sounds that come from the voice box. When you breathe, the vocal cords open to allow air to move into the lungs. When you speak, they come together and you push air through them in order to produce sound.
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There are many different causes of hoarseness. Some are temporary and go away on their own. For example, if you yell too loudly at a sporting event one night, you might be hoarse the next day. If you have a common cold or an upper respiratory tract infection, you might be hoarse for a few days. Prolonged hoarseness is often due to overuse of the vocal cords. If you talk too much, yell too loudly, or overuse your voice in any way, you might become hoarse for a longer period of time. Sometimes we become hoarse because of gastroesophageal reflux, which allows the stomach acid to come back up and irritate the vocal cords. Smoking, allergies, trauma to the throat, and many other health issues can also cause hoarseness.
If you are hoarse and the ailment does not go away on its own, there are a number of therapies that may be helpful in order to help your voice return to normal. Most hoarseness can be treated by simply resting your voice. You will want to drink a lot of fluids and talk sparingly or not at all. Specialists can help you train yourself to avoid bad habits that damage the vocal cords and cause hoarseness. Professionals might also recommend a diet change that includes avoiding spicy foods, alcohol, and other agents that dehydrate the body.
When you feel hoarse frequently and the ailment doesn't seem to go away on its own, it is a good idea to consult The Silverstein Institute. Their ear, nose, and throat specialists have been diagnosing and treating hoarseness and other maladies since 1979 and are well known for their wide range of expertise in the ENT area.