The movement of air from the lungs forms a wave on the lining of these cords, which produces sound. Straining the folds, which can occur while attempting lower tones or catching a cold or sinus infection, can produce discomfort and hoarseness. Talking or whispering might make the hoarseness worse. Excessive use of the throat in singing or speaking can damage the vocal chords causing them to become sore and possibly inflamed.
Harmful effects may also come from chemical reactions that take place when we breathe air containing pollutants or smoke. These chemicals can irritate the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, causing them to swell and create pain. This is why it's important not to expose your voice box to substances such as tobacco products, chemicals, and dust that may be found in workplaces where they are used illegally or improperly stored.
In addition, talking or singing too long without a break can cause stress on the vocal cords, which may lead to injury. Repeated strainings of the same area of the body will eventually cause muscle fatigue and failure. Not drinking enough water can have the same effect, so make sure you is drinking enough tea, coffee, or other beverages that replenish lost fluids.
Finally, don't eat too much at one time. This overstretches the muscles required to control the tongue, reducing their strength and possibly causing them to hurt afterward. It's best to eat small meals frequently to keep your voice healthy.
The vocal cords vibrate and make sound when we sing or talk. The most frequent cause of hoarseness is acute laryngitis (inflammation of the vocal cords), which is most typically caused by an upper respiratory tract infection (mainly viral) and, less commonly, by overuse or abuse of the voice (such as from yelling or singing). Other causes include cancer (most often laryngeal cancer), thyroid disease, airway disorders such as asthma or bronchitis, neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, medications such as corticosteroids or chemotherapy for cancer.
Hoarseness can also be a symptom of other conditions, including heart failure, chronic lung disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, acid reflux, tuberculosis, vocal cord polyps, sarcoidosis, and lupus. The voice may also become hoarse due to emotional stress. This type of hoarseness is usually not associated with any specific medical condition and will go away on its own after the cause of the stress is removed.
If you are experiencing sudden-onset hoarseness, pain in your neck or throat, or changes in your voice, seek medical attention immediately. Sudden changes in voice quality or strength may be signs of serious health problems that require immediate treatment.
In most cases, your doctor will be able to diagnose and treat the cause of your vocal cord inflammation. Treatment will depend on what cause is identified.
Other possible causes include cancer (most commonly laryngeal cancer), chronic inflammation of the throat (such as from post-operative scarring or lupus), thyroid disease, heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders (such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis), medication side effects, and obesity. In many cases, no cause can be identified.
Hoarseness can also be a symptom of other problems such as acid reflux or esophageal cancer, but this should be investigated by a physician.
In adults, hoarseness can be an indication that you have laryngitis. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor: trouble breathing through your nose, coughing up blood, feeling weak or tired all the time, fever, sore throat, sudden weight loss.
Symptoms of some more serious conditions may include: difficulty swallowing, pain when swallowing, change in voice quality or intensity.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
A variety of illnesses can induce hoarseness. Other causes include cancer (especially laryngeal cancer), chronic bronchitis, heart disease, stroke, thyroid disorders, large tumors in the neck, trauma to the neck region, and certain medications or environmental factors. The voice may also be gradually or suddenly weakened by illness or injury to the larynx or throat muscles.
Hoarseness can also be the first sign of serious trouble. If you have hoarseness that lasts more than three months or if it gets worse instead of better, see your doctor immediately. There are several conditions that can lead to permanent loss of voice quality, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infections. Other problems that can cause temporary changes in voice quality include smoking, drinking, using harsh chemicals on your hair, and using your phone too much.
Most cases of transient hoarseness will go away on their own within one to six months. However, if your voice does not return within this time frame, seek medical attention since there may be a problem with your vocal folds (the muscles that form a ring around the airway behind the tongue). Your doctor may perform a physical examination and order tests to determine the source of your pain.