Hoarseness Of Voice

What Causes A Hoarse Voice?

A hoarse voice can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose a hoarse voice, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "a hoarse voice" as a symptom.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Vocal Cord Paresis
  • Larynx Cancer
  • Contact Ulcers
  • Laryngitis
  • Vocal Cord Polyps
  • Heartburn

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
nasal congestion
occasional unexplained fevers
aluminum-based antacid use
recent onset vomiting
frequent rotten egg burps
swollen inguinal nodes
occasional confusion/disorientation
slight voice change
burning epigastric pain after meals
past episodes of bloodshot eyes
chronic nausea
frequent rashes
... and more than 30 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of a hoarse voice:
Cause Probability Status
Larynx Cancer 96% Confirm
Heartburn 21% Unlikely
Vocal Cord Polyps 17% Unlikely
Sarcoidosis 4% Ruled out
Vocal Cord Paresis 0% Ruled out
Laryngitis 0% Ruled out
Contact Ulcers 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

In the Mouth/Oral Symptoms section of the questionnaire, The Analyst™ will ask the following question about hoarseness of voice:
Has your voice become hoarse (rough or grating in sound)?
Possible responses:
→ No / don't know
→ Yes, for less than one week
→ Yes, for less than one month
→ Yes, for less than one year
→ Yes, for more than one year
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate recent onset hoarse voice, hoarse voice or long-term hoarse voice, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Laryngitis

The most common cause of hoarseness is inflammation of the vocal cords caused by upper respiratory tract infection, or by speaking, yelling or singing too much or too loud.

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