If your voice sounds rough or husky, you may have dysphonia – commonly called hoarseness.
Hoarseness should go away after a short time but, if it lasts for three weeks or more, you should contact AAENT.
How does AAENT evaluate hoarseness?
The first thing our providers do is listen to the quality of the patient’s voice. They then perform a physical exam with special attention to the sinuses, oral cavity, and neck. A flexible laryngoscopy is then performed following placement of medicine to open up and numb the nose and throat. This allows evaluation of the vocal cords for inflammation, tumors, and movement. If any significant findings are discovered or if the cause of the hoarseness is not discovered by the initial examinations, then a flexible laryngoscopy with videostroboscopy is performed.
Did You Know?
A flexible laryngoscopy and videostroboscopy is performed in conjunction with Dr Meek’s Speech Pathologist, Heather Langford who has over 20 years experience with voice and swallowing analysis. The videostroboscopy portion of the procedure allows evaluation of the wave created on the vocal cord by flashing a light in sequence with the frequency of the voice. The images are then recorded for a more in depth analysis for lesions not easily seen with the naked eye.
The vocal cords vibrate faster than the human retinae can see. The videostroboscopy also allows an in depth analysis of the movement of the vocal cords, such as movement found in partial paralysis or paralysis.
How does AAENT treat hoarseness?
There are several different methods. AAENT may use, such as:
- Vocal hygiene instruction
- Treatment of reflux, if present, with medications, lifestyle and diet change recommendations, and, in rare instances, surgery to fix a hiatal hernia or weak lower esophageal sphincter.
- Voice therapy to treat excessive straining, minimize behaviors that lead to vocal nodules, polyps, and granulomas.
- Surgery to remove vocal nodule (in rare instances), vocal polyps, vocal cyst, scarring of the vocal cords, removal of laryngeal tumors.
- Vocal cord injection of Botox to treat spasmodic dysphonia.
- Vocal cord injections of calcium or hyaluronic acid-based material to treat vocal cord paralysis or thinning of the vocal cords associated with aging. AAENT is one of the only practices in the region with the ability to perform this procedure under local anesthesia. The procedure usually takes less than 5 minutes and patients are able to begin voicing immediately.
How is hoarseness diagnosed?
At AAENT, we will want to listen to your voice and examine your head and neck. We will check for any lumps in your neck and examine your voice box using a laryngoscope, which is a lightened instrument that will be inserted into the back of your throat through your nostrils. If there is cause for concern, our doctors may order the following tests:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
How can hoarseness be prevented?
There are some easy ways to prevent a hoarse voice. You should practice them especially if you use your voice for professional reasons, particularly if that’s every day. Try the following to help prevent hoarseness:
- Quit smoking. Stay away from second-hand smoke.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine and other fluids that dehydrate your body.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Use a humidifier.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Keep yourself from using your voice for too long.
- Keep yourself from using your voice too loudly.