Also known as: hoarse voice, raspy voice

What is hoarseness?

Hoarseness is when your voice becomes raspy, weak or unable to make smooth sounds. It is often accompanied by a scratchy or dry throat. 

What might cause hoarseness?

Hoarseness has a number of potential causes, including:
  • Voice overuse (screaming, singing or loud talking)
  • Allergies
  • Acid reflux
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Drinking caffeine or alcohol
  • Excessive coughing
  • Polyps
  • Adolescence
  • Throat damage
  • Thyroid problems
  • Toxin inhalation
  • Nerve or muscle conditions
  • Lung, throat or thyroid cancer

What are the treatment options?

If the hoarseness is due to voice overuse, cigarette smoking or other self-induced causes, you can relieve symptoms or prevent them in the future by avoiding the offending activity.  Make sure to drink plenty of water and rest your voice for a few days. A hot shower, lozenges and chewing gum can also help.  

When should you seek medical attention?

If the hoarseness does not resolve after a few days or is severe and accompanied by other symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your physician.

Reviewed by: Sandeep Dave, MD

This page was last updated on: December 09, 2019 09:39 AM

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