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

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:
H2-blocker antacid use
frequent painful inguinal nodes
having asthma
frequent confusion/disorientation
nasal congestion
frequent rashes
frequent swollen inguinal nodes
significant bitter taste in mouth
slight voice change
recurrent bronchitis
magnesium-based antacid use
regular bicarbonate 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
Contact Ulcers 91% Confirm
Vocal Cord Paresis 29% Unlikely
Heartburn 24% Unlikely
Larynx Cancer 1% Ruled out
Vocal Cord Polyps 1% Ruled out
Laryngitis 1% Ruled out
Sarcoidosis 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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