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Hoarseness

Definition/symptoms: the voice is deeper or raspy or just gone or different than what it usually is.

Possible causes: most hoarseness is from the flu and it will last from 1 - 7 days. Treatment for this cause is not to talk and waiting for the flu to resolve.  Another cause is voice abuse from talking to much or yelling a lot.  Treatment is to talk in a normal voice and not to yell.  This abuse of the voice can lead to vocal cord nodules.  Treatment for nodules is speech therapy and if this is not successful, then surgery to remove the nodules is indicated.

Another cause is vocal cord paralysis which can be due to thyroid surgery, a cancer in the left upper lung, or it can just become paralyzed for no known cause. Treatment for this last cause is waiting for the nerve to come back functioning. If it does not, surgery is possible.

The worst cause of hoarseness is a cancer of the vocal cord, mostly seen in smokers. Biopsy of the cancer is indicated.

All the above causes need to be evaluated by a careful exam of the throat, neck and vocal cords. Then appropriated treatment is started.

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