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HOARSENESS

Condition and Symptoms

The medical term dysphonia means a change in the voice, including hoarseness, and the similar term aphonia means complete loss of voice.


It is essential to see your GP if you have been hoarse for longer than three weeks, particularly if you are or have been a smoker.

Most cases of hoarseness are due to viral infections or overuse of the voice. The problem will get better over a few days and you may be advised to:

  • Rest your voice and use it gently and sparingly

  • Drink plenty of liquids and to avoid alcohol, tea and coffee

  • Stop smoking 

  • Take simple painkillers regularly, if necessary 

  • Start or increase antacid medication if acid reflux is thought to be a factor in your case.


When Mrs Bentley assesses you she will ask about your symptoms, the length of time, or the possible causes or hoarseness. She will pass a small narrow, highly flexible endoscope, through your nose and into the back of your throat under local anaesthetic. This gives her the most detailed view of your throat and larynx (and vocal folds). In almost every patient it gives an instant and accurate diagnosis. 


Treatment

Once the larynx has been examined Mrs Bentley will be able to decide immediately what is the best treatment for your problem. 

Depending on the cause of your hoarseness or voice change, the following treatments may be necessary and these will be explained to you by Mrs Bentley. The majority of patients will require treatment by a speech therapist, surgery is only occasionally required and is often undertaken after, or in combination with speech therapy.


Surgery is only required in the minority of patients with hoarseness or change in their voice.