What to Do If You Lose Your Voice: Hoarseness & Your ENT

You know how it goes… you’ve been fighting off a cold without much success, and then on the third day you wake up with a voice that’s barely-there: raspy, pitchy and strained. (Of course, this usually happens on the day you have a big presentation or important meeting, right?)

Hoarseness, though frustrating and uncomfortable, is typically not a serious symptom. Also, important to note: it’s not a disease in and of itself. Many cases tend to resolve on their own without medical intervention. However, some cases do need to be seen by an ENT physician. Specialists at ENT Clinic of Utah – with locations in Magna and West Valley City, UT – frequently see patients for hoarseness and related symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the questions we frequently get about losing your voice.

What causes hoarseness?

The most common causes tend to be the common cold, allergies, viral infections in the upper respiratory tract, and using your voice too loudly or for a prolonged period. However, hoarseness may also be caused by:

  • Smoking
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Thyroid issues
  • Neurological disorders
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

What can you do for a hoarse voice?

Your hoarse voice will usually resolve itself through rest. Take a “quiet day,” and speak as little as possible, allowing the vocal cords some recovery time. While whispering might seem like an intuitive solution, this behavior can actually put further strain on your voice; if you have to communicate, use pen and paper. If your hoarseness is caused by smoking, talk to your doctor about developing a smoking cessation plan. Lastly, keep drinking plenty of fluids, and consider running a humidifier in your home (especially at night in the bedroom).

Though uncommon, hoarseness may be caused by nodules or polyps, which may require surgery.

How long will it take for my voice to come back?

A lost voice may come back in just two or three days when hoarseness is caused by a cold or overuse. If hoarseness is caused by laryngitis or other more complex illnesses, it may take a couple weeks for your voice to regain its former strength.

Every patient and case is different. If you are concerned about your hoarseness, see an ENT doctor near you for an evaluation and diagnosis. A throat specialist may diagnose hoarseness by…

  • Asking questions about your symptoms.
  • Examining the voice box and throat with a mirror or laryngoscope.
  • Listening to the sound of your voice and breath.
  • Ordering one or more lab tests, including biopsy or x-ray.

See an ENT Doctor Near You for Hoarseness

If you are experiencing hoarseness, schedule an appointment with an ENT doctor near you. Call 801-912-8270. ENT Clinic of Utah has locations in West Valley City and Magna, UT.