Hoarseness is a frequently occurring disorder and is characterized by an occupied, rough or breathy voice with a deeper timbre.

The loss of voice can be partial or complete:

  • in partial voice disorder, the voice is impaired;
  • with complete loss of voice one speaks of aphonia, only a whisper is possible.

Hoarseness is caused by overexertion, inflammation or infection of the vocal cords or vocal folds in the larynx.
Depending on the duration, hoarseness is referred to as:

  • acute
  • chronic.

A hoarse voice occurs more frequently:

  • in the morning when waking up,
  • in the evening (if there was a lot of talk during the day, the larynx is irritated in the evening).

The human voice is formed by the vocal folds.
The vocal folds are folds in the mucous membrane of the larynx and they produce the sound that allows us to speak.
The flow of air during exhalation causes the vocal folds to vibrate and produce sounds.
For correct tone formation, the vocal folds must be supple and supplied with sufficient water, then they can:

  • swing fast enough,
  • close completely.

Inflammation or irritation of the vocal folds can impair the ability to vibrate, which is manifested by a hoarse or completely toneless voice.


Causes of hoarseness

  1. Laryngitis
  2. Sore throat
  3. Tumor of the lung, respiratory tract, esophagus or thyroid gland
  4. Psychological factors, such as anxiety or stress
  5. Cold, viral or bacterial infection
  6. Tonsillitis
  7. Bronchitis
  8. Smoking (cause of many diseases, such as lung and laryngeal cancer, heart attack, etc.)
  9. Allergy, an allergic reaction can cause the throat to swell suddenly, affecting the voice
  10. Gastroesophageal reflux – reflux of acidic stomach contents can damage the vocal folds
  11. Loud screaming or singing, e.g. at a concert or in the discotheque
  12. Screaming of infants and toddlers
  13. Inhalation of cortisone-containing drugs for the treatment of other diseases
  14. Injury to the vocal folds or nerve damage during surgery (e.g. removal of the thyroid gland, a lump or a polyp)
  15. Hypothyroidism, i.e. the thyroid gland produces fewer hormones
  16. Goiter (enlarged thyroid)
  17. Exposure to toxic substances or irritants
  18. Neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis
  19. Serious diseases such as aortic aneurysm and myasthenia gravis

Concomitant symptoms of hoarseness

There are a number of diseases that can cause other symptoms besides loss of voice.

In the case of a respiratory infection (cold, laryngitis or viral flu), the following symptoms may also be noticeable:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Swelling of the larynx and neck
  3. Cough
  4. Mucus accumulation in the throat
  5. Fever
  6. Pain when swallowing or speaking
  7. Breathing difficulties
  8. Enlargement of cervical lymph nodes

With hoarseness and cough, the patient may suffer from:

  • gastroesophageal reflux (also characterized by heartburn and a bitter taste in the mouth),
  • Bronchitis – the patient also has fever and mucus in the throat.

Cigarette smoke can cause hoarseness without a sore throat.

Is laryngitis contagious?

The cause of laryngitis can be contagious; For example, if a person suffers from a cold or infection, the viruses or bacteria can be transmitted to other people.

When is hoarseness cause for concern?

As a rule, hoarseness is provoked by loud crying or infection and passes on its own after a few days; however, if it persists for more than 2 weeks without any other symptoms (such as cough or cold), a doctor must be consulted because a serious illness may be the cause, such as a tumour in the throat.

Diagnosis and examinations for hoarseness

The doctor examines the patient and may order the following examinations:

  • Blood test with complete blood count – values to be checked are erythrocyte sedimentation reaction (BSR) and white blood cell count to determine if an infection is present.
  • X-ray or CT scan of the neck.
  • Fibroscopy of the larynx – an endoscopic examination procedure in which the doctor inserts a probe into the throat and examines the larynx directly. In this way, tumoral masses can be excluded.
  • Laryngeal swab – to determine which bacterium is responsible for the infection.

What can be done? How can hoarseness be treated?

Medications The doctor may prescribe different medications
depending on the cause.
In the case of a bacterial throat infection, for example:

  • antibiotic amoxillin (Augmentin),
  • Anti-inflammatories to relieve swelling, e.g. ketoprofen (alrheumun).

Natural remedies for hoarseness also for pregnant women

There are many tried and tested remedies that can be used at home for inflammation of the larynx.
One of the most effective remedies for hoarseness is the inhalation of steam, because it relieves the irritation of:

  • Neck
  • vocal folds.

If the hoarse voice is caused by cold, laryngitis, sore throat or simply by the overuse of the voice by a lot of loud screaming, you should spare the voice and speak as little as possible.
Do not whisper, because this can also strain the vocal folds.

a lot 
During the day, fluids should be consumed. Water keeps the larynx moist and is a quick remedy. The water should not be too hot or too cold, lukewarm drinks are better.

Honey quickly brings the voice back. You can dissolve it in warm water or another drink and drink it.
Together with herbal tea, it is even more effective against hoarseness.
Especially children like this remedy, they should drink from it at least twice a day.
Another home remedy for hoarse voice and laryngitis is lemon juice, mixed with:

  • Honey
  • lukewarm water.

Honey is one of the Ayurvedic remedies; it is very good for the throat and ensures a healthy voice.

Air humidification
Increasing the humidity in the rooms with an atomizer or humidifier can help keep the vocal folds supple.
This is especially true if the dry air was the cause of the inflammation of the throat.
Good humidifiers are available in:

  • Drugstores
  • Pharmacies.

Steam inhalation
Steam can relieve inflammation of the vocal folds.
You can:

  • hot shower,
  • Make steam baths with a bowl of hot water.

For inhalation, heat a pot with:

  • Water
  • Bicarbonate.

The steam is inhaled for 10-15 minutes. Inhalation should be done twice a day.

Steam treatments speed up the healing process.

Gargling with lukewarm water supports the hydration of the vocal folds.
If hoarseness is caused by a cold or sore throat, traditional gargling with salt water is very effective.

  • increases the local blood supply,
  • the inflammation can subside quickly.

However, one should not overdo gargling with salt water, because the salt dries out the mucous membrane, which aggravates the symptoms.

Effective gargle solutions:

  • Dissolve 1 tbsp salt in a cup of lukewarm water.
  • Mix 1 pinch of salt with lemon juice.
  • Mix vinegar with water.

Medicinal plants and medicinal herbs against hoarseness

Herbal tea Herbs, such as thyme and chamomile, can relieve inflammation in the throat.

  • Thyme and chamomile tea have a beneficial effect.
  • Tea from ginger root is a helpful remedy for hoarseness.

Allicin is contained in garlic and acts:

  • antiinflammatory
  • antimicrobial.

You can prepare a garlic soup with red spruce and herbs.
Teas from ginger, fenugreek, eucalyptus and horehound are:

  • beneficial for the throat,
  • help to regenerate the voice.

Cough drops
You can use cough drops or sweets against the sore throat.

Diet and nutrition for hoarseness

Often the doctor advises to eat a lot to provide the body with the necessary nutrients, and possibly to eat hot chicken broth.
In reality, however, the healing process is slowed down by this advice. Here’s why:

  • Chicken broth contains all the toxins and waste products from the muscles of the animal.
  • In today’s society, malnutrition is not caused by too little food but by unnatural foods, especially glutenmilk and dairy products. Cow’s milk contains plenty of proteins and mineral salts (such as calcium), which inhibit the absorption of some minerals, such as iron (study by Ziegler – Fomon Infant Nutrition Unit, Department of Pediatrics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA).
  • The gluten and insoluble fiber found in whole grains bind to the mineral salts in the intestine and prevent absorption.
  • The body wastes energy on digestion and continues to produce toxins that slow healing.

A light diet based on fruits and vegetables favors a quick recovery, because digestion is fast and the body can focus on:

  • the infection,
  • other diseases.

Further advice for hoarseness:

To be avoided

  • Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and cola should be avoided until the voice is completely normalized, because they dehydrate the body.
  • As long as the throat is inflamed, alcohol should be avoided because it can deprive the body of water and aggravate the problem.
    Alcohol causes a dry throat.

Way of life in hoarseness

  • Do not smoke because tobacco smoke can irritate the throat and cause dry mouth.
    Passive smoking irritates the larynx and delays the healing process.
  • Avoid premises where you are exposed to dust, smoke, cold air and other irritants.
  • Do not use mucosal decongestants as they may dry out the vocal folds.

When does hoarseness pass?

  • If hoarseness is the result of overuse of the voice (e.g. in a primary school teacher), it passes after 24-48 hours.
  • In case of a viral or bacterial infection, it should not last longer than 5 days.
  • If none of the remedies help and the symptoms last longer than 2 or even 4 weeks, a doctor must be consulted.
    It could be an underlying serious disease, such as lung or laryngeal cancer, especially in the elderly.

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