Hoarseness or dysphonia is an abnormal change in voice timbre. It is due to dysfunction of the larynx.
Remember that the larynx is part of the upper respiratory system. It contains the vocal cords that allow us to make sounds.

Dysphonia, also called a hoarse voice, is usually not a serious problem. However, it has a negative impact on the work of people who need speech a lot in their daily activities or at work.

Hoarseness can be acute (for a short period) or chronic, that is, for a longer period. Most cases of hoarseness are not serious.


Hoarseness is caused by processes that affect the structure or function of the larynx.

The quality of the sound emitted by an individual, that is, its regularity, its flexibility and mobility, depends mainly on the vocal cords. Abnormality of the vocal cords results in hoarseness.

There are 6 etiological groups of hoarseness:

– infection

– inflammation

– Trauma

– Obstruction

– Infiltration

– Allergy can also be a cause of hoarseness.

– Congenital (birth) abnormalities

Environmental contexts impair the proper functioning of the larynx. In fact, sudden exposure to cold is the most frequent cause of inflammation of the larynx (laryngitis). People who breathe very dry or polluted air are also affected, and the risk increases if they are allergic or asthmatic.

Teachers, singers, leaders in audiovisual programs and lawyers, become hoarse more easily because of overuse of the voice.
In children, hoarseness is usually benign and caused by abuse or misuse of the voice, it is often cured with education, observation and voice therapy. In addition, it tends to improve in adolescence due to changes in habits, development of the vocal folds and hormonal changes.

Alcohol causes dysphonia in two ways: first, it inflames the larynx, and second, it influences the drunk to speak louder.

Infectious laryngitis such as the flu, tuberculosis , colds and respiratory infections often cause hoarseness. The use of cortisone pumps in the treatment of asthma also promotes the growth of fungi in the larynx, which can cause hoarseness.

Acidic stomach contents regurgitated or gastroesophageal reflux can irritate the vocal cords.

More rarely, blows to the throat caused by traffic accidents or sports injuries affect the larynx. The manipulation of the larynx with hospital instruments makes the emergence of trauma and wounds susceptible, impairing phonation.

Benign tumors also make the voice hoarse. In people who abuse and misuse their voice, they can appear as tumors or nodules on the vocal cords, also called “singers’ nodules”.

Laryngeal cancer , especially in heavy smokers, can cause dysphonia.

Paralysis of the laryngeal muscles interrupts locution. This is the result of nerve damage that occurs after thyroid gland surgery.

Note that emotional factors, in some people, can be the cause of hoarseness.

Some medications can cause hoarseness, such as budesonide nasal spray .


Hoarseness is very easy to recognize: the voice becomes hoarse, that is, the sounds become harsh.
Dysphonia is often associated with a cough, sore throat or difficulty swallowing.
Hoarseness is the expression of diseases that affect the larynx. Specific signs of the disease, such as breathing difficulties, earache, swelling in the neck, digestive problems and fever may accompany it. Among smokers, hoarseness results in a decrease in vocal range and persistent pain in the throat .


When you go to the consultation, the doctor will often try to find the source of your hoarseness. He seeks information about the date of onset of the disease, the frequency, its permanence or not, and under what circumstances it usually appears. Information about other existing diseases (gastroesophageal reflux, neuronal problems, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s, muscular sclerosis, among others), their professional environment, as well as family history and personal health issues are also useful.
The doctor ends the interrogation with the symptoms that accompany dysphonia. Concomitantly, the quality of the patient’s voice is analyzed. Subsequently, the otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat specialist examines your vocal cords and adjacent organs (ear, upper airway, tongue) with the help of specific materials.

Depending on the context, confirmation of the diagnosis and prognosis is made with other complementary tests, such as sampling, laboratory analysis, radiography and computed tomography.


Dysphonia usually evolves favorably. However, the absence or delay in treatment can aggravate vocal cord injuries. Hoarseness can result in loss of voice in chronic laryngeal disease.

When to consult?

Hoarseness regression usually occurs naturally. However, you should see a doctor if:

– Continue for more than ten days;

– Occurs during trauma to the head or throat;

– Appearing after neck surgery;

– It is accompanied by other signs such as sore throat, difficulty swallowing, discomfort in breathing;

– Appear several times;

– You are a smoker.


curative treatment:

In principle, suppression of the cause cures dysphonia.
Infectious hoarseness can be treated with antibiotics (in the case of bacterial infections) and aerosols. Tumors can be treated by surgeons. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy complements cancer treatment.

Sometimes we hear that codeine can help you get your voice back and therefore cure hoarseness. In our opinion, there are still no solid scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of codeine in case of hoarseness. However, codeine is effective against coughing, a symptom sometimes associated with it.

As for environmental problems (toxic fumes, dust and tobacco), simply avoid them. Addressing other aggravating factors such as stress, emotion, cold, dryness, or gastroesophageal reflux facilitates healing.

Some people resort to orthophony, which corrects and improves the patient’s speech.

To relieve hoarseness:

– Take a vocal rest for at least 24 hours and do not whisper to prevent worsening;

– Wet your larynx. To do this, pour hot water into a bowl. Stand high and breathe in the steam for 10-15 minutes two to three times a day;

– Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Preventive treatment:

The best prevention against hoarseness is to protect yourself from the cause:

– Refrain from talking or singing a lot, especially if you have a cold or if you have angina;

– Stop smoking and avoid exposing yourself to tobacco and external aggressors, such as dust, cold and dry environment;

– Drink regularly to properly hydrate your vocal cords;

– For asthmatics, gargling after using the cortisone pump prevents yeast infection.

Phytotherapy (medicinal plants)

Some medicinal plants can help in case of hoarseness

– Licorice tea , has an effective and interesting effect

– Mallow

– Cassis , can be used in the form of sweets

– Mullein , for example in the form of tea.

– Iceland moss , for example: sweets to suck on.

home remedies

– Honey gargle

– Salt water gargle (may help resolve hoarseness)

Tips & Prevention

– Stop smoking and drinking alcohol;

– Humidify your environment as much as possible and choose to live in a less polluted atmosphere;

– Medicines containing antihistamines (substances against allergies) worsen the phonation problem. If you need to take it, drink enough liquid to improve laryngeal dryness;

– Don’t force your voice and breathe naturally speaking.

The speech therapist will help you maintain your vocal cords and communicate in a healthy way.

– Do steam inhalations, use an inhaler or use a cloth covering your head with the edges around a bowl of boiling water. You can also take a hot shower and breathe deeply.

– Avoid using decongestants ( cold medicines ), they can dry out the throat and thus aggravate hoarseness.

Responsible person involved in writing this file:
Xavier Gruffat (pharmacist and editor-in-chief of Create health.com.br)

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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