You’ll often be difficult to understand when you suffer from hoarseness. For example, your voice may sound raspy, unclear, or jerky. In most cases you won’t need to worry. It’s a common complaint and one which usually goes away on its own within 3 weeks. There is no clear cause for hoarseness. For example, it can be caused by:
- A cold.
- A throat infection.
- Wrong or frequent use of your voice.
- Stress and tension.
- Burning and/or rising stomach acid. Also called acid reflux.
- Old age.
- A polyp or lump on the vocal cords.
- An operation on your throat or neck. You will particularly suffer from hoarseness afterwards.
- Allergies or asthma.
- Certain medications, such as water or sleeping pills.
- Hormonal changes, like an over-active or under-active thyroid.
When you’re hoarse, you may suffer from:
- A muffled voice.
- Loss of your voice.
- Raspiness and/or a crackling voice.
- Overloaded vocal cords.
- Disturbed vocal cords.
- An underlying throat condition. Such as a throat infection, laryngitis or a tumour.
- Other cold symptoms, such as chills, a headache, a stuffy nose, sneezing and/or coughing.
There are a number of things you can do to prevent, reduce, or resolve hoarseness. For example, we recommend you:
- Sufficiently rest your voice. Talk calmly and normally, alternating with breaks.
- Don’t yell or whisper.
- Make sure you cough as little as possible. This won’t always be possible with a cold, but try to do so carefully.
- Stop smoking if you smoke. Do you need help with that? Then contact your GP.
- Avoid areas where there’s a lot of smoking or heating.
- Moderate your alcohol consumption. It’s best if you don’t drink alcohol at all.
- Reduce your stress and tension. Identify the causes and try to change them. Are you unable to do this independently? Then contact your GP. If necessary, he or she can refer you to the practice nurse or a psychologist. Also contact your GP if you feel gloomy.
You usually won’t need to see your GP if you’re hoarse. We do recommend you contact your GP in the following situations:
- You are 50 years or older and you have been suffering from hoarseness for 3 weeks.
- You’re a smoker and you have been hoarse for 3 weeks or more.
- You drink a lot of alcohol and you have been hoarse for 3 weeks or more.
Old age, alcohol abuse and smoking increase the risk of throat cancer. That’s why it’s a good idea to be extra alert and to contact your GP immediately. He or she can examine you and/or help you stop smoking and drinking. Your GP will refer you to the right specialist if specialist help is required.
Also make an appointment with your GP if:
- You suspect your medications are causing your hoarseness.
- You’ve been hoarse for 6 weeks or more without knowing the cause.
- The above advice has not helped and you’re still hoarse after 6 weeks.
In some cases, your GP will refer you to an ENT specialist. Especially if it’s caused by a disorder of your vocal cords. A deeper look into your throat will be required in order to determine this and the ENT doctor will have the right instruments for this.Overzicht gezondheidsklachten