What is Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is defined as a roughness or weakness of the speaking or singing voice. It is caused by a disruption of the normal vibration of the vocal cords or by a failure of closure of the vocal cords during vibration. The vocal cords normally work by creating a vibration in the air that flows through them from the lungs, similar to a guitar string when it is plucked. Many things can cause that acoustic signal to become irregular, such as swelling of the cover of the vocal cord from reflux or infection, growths on the edge of the vocal cord, weakness of the muscle that supports the vocal cord, or stiffness from scar.

Hoarseness that lasts longer than a week should be investigated with a procedure to visualize the vocal cords in motion to determine the true cause of the problem. Certain growths on the edge of the vocal cords can lead to severe hoarseness or permanent damage to the voice  if not treated early. Often times vocal abuse, or inappropriate patterns of vocal behavior can lead to hoarseness and can be reversed with therapy.

Click here to see how we evaluate hoarseness.