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5 reasons why your voice turns hoarse

A hoarse voice can indicate cancer.

A nasty throat infection can sometimes leave our voice so hoarse that our own mothers won t recognise us over the telephone. Hoarseness is a quality associated with unusual changes in human voice that makes it raspy or breathy. People experiencing sudden hoarseness of voice may also find it difficult to perform vocal activities like singing or talking for a long time. These changes usually happen when the voice-producing organs like larynx and the vocal tract develop some problems, making your voice sound harsh and unpleasant. Change in the quality of voice isn t always a cause for concern; your normal voice should return within a week if you have a common cold or a throat infection. However, not all causes are as innocuous as cold. Sometimes it could be an indicator of something more serious. Dr Gaurav Wadkar, ENTspecialist from SRV Hospital, Goregaon lists the top 5 worrying reasons why our voice turns hoarse.

Allergies

Allergies are one of the top-most causes of voice hoarseness. When someone is exposed to allergens like pollen, dust mites or cat fur, the vocal folds react by getting inflamed. The swelling in the folds affects the way voice is produced in the larynx. This sometimes renders a hoarse or a gravelly texture to the voice.

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Neurological problems

Certain neurological conditions can cause interference in the signals sent between the brain and the vocal chords. This can contribute to a noticeable change in the person s voice. Neural conditions such as laryngeal nerve palsy, Parkinson s disease and Myasthenia Gravis are some of the culprits. Paralysed focal folds can also alter the quality of a person s voice.

Nodules and polyps

People belonging to certain professions like trainers, public speakers, teachers and ventriloquists abuse their voice more than others. Repeated abuse of voice without periods of rest can also cause acute laryngitis and nodules to develop on the vocal folds. Dr Wadkar adds, Since it is seen mostly among teachers, we call the problem Teacher s nodules. Vocal chords may also develop polyps or small fluid-filled sacs which cause voice hoarseness.

Hypothyroidism

Women suffering from hypothyroidism notice a raspy, hoarse quality in their voices. The hormonal changes associated with hypothyroidism increases the thickness of the vocal folds. This in turn has a direct impact on the tone and pitch of the voice.

Malignancy

Vibrations of the vocal chords can get affected if there is a cancerous tumour growing on them. These tumours interrupt the vibrations necessary for the voice production, causing hoarse voice. Long-term smoking habits can cause something known as the Smoker's voice. Smoke inhalation through the mouth can expose the throat to cigarette tar which causes irritation to the vocal folds. Additionally, smoking can also contribute to glottis cancers and tumours, which can interfere in the voice mechanism of the throat.

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