Hoarseness and Singer Disorders

Hoarseness and Singer Disorders Q & A

What’s hoarseness?

Hoarseness is considered any abnormal changes in the voice. Hoarseness can cause the voice to sound strained, raspy, breathy, or soft. It can also change the pitch of the voice.

What causes hoarseness?

Changes in the vocal folds of the voice box are the most common cause of hoarseness. When an individual is singing or talking, the vocal folds come together, and air leaving the lungs causes them to vibrate. This produces the sound others can hear. Any swelling or lumps on these folds prevent this from happening properly. Some common reasons for this include:

  • Acute laryngitis
  • Voice misuse
  • Benign vocal cord lesions
  • Hemorrhage
  • GERD
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Smoking
  • Neurological disorders
  • Allergies
  • Thyroid problems
  • Trauma or injury to the voice box

With the large list of potential causes, patients often have trouble determining what's causing their particular problem with hoarseness. Ear Nose and Throat Specialists of Connecticut can help.

How is the cause of hoarseness determined?

Dr. Astrachan and Dr. Hecht perform a thorough history of a patient's health and hoarseness problems. They then perform a voice evaluation and a thorough exam of the ear, nose, and throat often using fiber optic technology  to directly visualize the voice box and vocal cords . This allows them to get to the bottom of the problem and find a solution.

How are singer disorders and other hoarseness problems treated?

Like most problems, the treatment depends on the cause. Sometimes resting the voice or modifying the way it's used is all that's necessary to treat vocal disorders. Removing polyps and other lesions may restore the voice. Patients should avoid smoking and increase fluid intake to increase their vocal quality.

How can singers protect their voices?

Because Dr. Astrachan is a vocalist, he can help singers learn measures they can take to protect their voices. Proper singing technique and proper rest helps prevent hoarseness for those patients who use their voices on a regular basis.

When should someone see a doctor for hoarseness?

If hoarseness lasts longer than 3 weeks, it's best to see a doctor. Most causes of hoarseness are temporary, and this length of time indicates an underlying problem that should be addressed. Any severe changes in voice that last more than a few days without improvement warrant a call to Ear Nose and Throat Specialists of Connecticut.

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