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The Causes of Hoarseness

A hoarse throat can develop with or without pain. There are several factors which can cause hoarseness, including:

  • A virus like the flu or a cold
  • A bacterial infection like strep throat
  • An allergic reaction to an allergen
  • Laryngitis, or inflammation in your throat
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD
  • Esophageal cancer

For mild hoarseness, you can try a few simple remedies to help get relief. Remember to:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of liquids
  • Drink warm tea with honey to soothe your throat
  • Gargle with warm salt water several times during the day
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol
  • Place a humidifier in your bedroom to breathe moist, soothing air

For moderate to severe hoarseness that doesn’t resolve or is getting worse, you need to seek out the expertise of your ENT specialist. You also need to seek out your ENT specialist if your hoarseness is accompanied by:

  • Joint pain, a rash, or a fever over 101 degrees
  • Difficulty breathing, swallowing or opening your mouth
  • A lump in your neck, earache, or blood in your saliva

Professional treatments for hoarseness include:

  • Antibiotic medication, if your hoarseness is caused by a bacterial infection, like strep throat
  • Antiviral medication, if your hoarseness is caused by a virus like a cold or the flu

If the cause of your hoarseness is not easily identifiable, your ENT specialist may also recommend a diagnostic procedure known as an endoscopy. During an endoscopy, a thin tube with a camera at one end is inserted into your throat and guided down your esophagus. The endoscope allows your ENT specialist to view your esophagus. If any abnormal tissue or growths are found, they can be removed for biopsy.

An endoscopy is especially effective in the diagnosis of:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Esophageal polyps or growths
  • Esophageal damage or ulcers
  • Esophageal cancer

No matter what is causing your hoarseness, an ear, nose, and throat specialist can help. If you are suffering from hoarseness or a sore throat, talk with an expert. Call your ENT specialist today.

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