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:
  • Contact Ulcers
  • Vocal Cord Polyps
  • Larynx Cancer
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Heartburn
  • Vocal Cord Paresis
  • Laryngitis

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:
aluminum-based antacid use
being in late pregnancy
regular bicarbonate use
painful inguinal nodes
calcium-based antacid use
shortness of breath when at rest
having asthma
seizures
bloodshot eyes
arrhythmia
frequent acid reflux during sleep
history of chewing tobacco use
... 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 94% Confirm
Sarcoidosis 26% Unlikely
Laryngitis 22% Unlikely
Contact Ulcers 1% Ruled out
Heartburn 0% Ruled out
Vocal Cord Paresis 0% Ruled out
Vocal Cord Polyps 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:
Heartburn / GERD / Acid Reflux

Irritation caused by stomach acid refluxed into the throat can lead to hoarseness.

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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