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.
Voice strain; Dysphonia; Loss of voice
Hoarseness is most often caused by a problem with the vocal cords, which are part of your voice box (larynx) in
The most common cause of hoarseness is a cold or sinus infection, which usually goes away on its own
Another rare, but serious cause of hoarseness that does not go away in a few weeks is cancer of the voice box.
Less common causes include:
Things you can do at home to help relieve the problem include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The doctor will examine your throat, neck, and mouth and ask you some questions about your symptoms and medical history, including:
You may have one or more of the following tests:
Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. St Louis, Mo; Mosby; 2010.
Feierabend RH, Malik SN. Hoarseness in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(4)363-370.
Schwartz SR, Cohen SM, Dailey SH. Clinical practice guideline: Hoarseness (Dysphonia).Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2009;141 (3S2)S1-S31.
Review Date: 11/9/2012
Reviewed By: Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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