Abnormal Voice Changes
Hoarseness is a general term that describes abnormal voice changes. When you are hoarse, your voice may sound breathy, raspy, or strained. Or you may have changes in loudness (volume) or how high or low your voice is (pitch).
Activities that can lead to straining or injuring the vocal cords (vocal abuse) include throat clearing, coughing, inhaling irritants, smoking, and screaming.
The best treatment is to find and eliminate the vocal behavior that created the voice disorder. In many cases, a brief period of voice therapy is helpful so that you can learn good vocal techniques. These include proper breath support for speech or eliminating forceful voicing.
When to see an ENT Physician
Your ENT physician should check out any hoarseness that continues for more than three weeks, especially if you have not had a cold or the flu. You should also contact your healthcare provider if you lose your voice completely for more than a few days. Although hoarseness is a common symptom of vocal abuse or misuse, it is also one of the first signs of cancer of the larynx.