Hoarseness refers to a difficulty making sounds when trying to speak. Vocal sounds may be weak, breathy, scratchy, or husky, and the pitch or quality of the voice may change.

Hoarseness is most often caused by a problem with the vocal cords, which are part of the voice box (larynx) in the throat. When the vocal cords become inflamed or infected, they swell. This can cause hoarseness.

The most common cause of hoarseness:

  • Acute laryngitis
  • Infections of the upper respiratory
  • Severe cough
  • Vocal cord nodules
  • Vocal cord polyps
  • Reinke edema
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Smoking
  • Allergies
Less common causes are: 
  • Malignant and benign tumors of the larynx
  • Malignancies of the lung, esophagus, or thyroid
  • Wounds and injuries
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Neurological diseases
  • Age
  • Myasthenia gravis
Consult EYiasis ENT department if:
  • You have trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Hoarseness occurs with drooling, especially in a small child
  • Hoarseness has lasted for more than 1 week in a child, or 2-3 weeks in an adult
  • It’s associated with coughing up blood
  • It’s associated with a lump in the neck


The ENT surgeon will conduct a mirror examination of the throat  and a laryngeal endoscopy examination.
Things to do at home to help relieve the problem include:
  • Talk only when necessary, until hoarseness goes away.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to help keep the airways moist. (Gargling does not help.)
  • Use a vaporizer to add moisture to the air.
  • Avoid actions that strain the vocal cords such as whispering, shouting, crying, and singing.
  • Take medicines to reduce stomach acid if hoarseness is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Do NOT use decongestants which can dry out the vocal cords.
  • If you smoke, cut down or stop at least until hoarseness goes away.
Other treatments may include voice therapy or surgical removal of laryngeal polyps or nodes if deemed necessary by the ENT surgeon.