Differential Diagnosis for Hoarseness

Common acute causes of hoarseness include: voice abuse (especially after cheering for your favorite team) and as part of a viral infection (laryngitis). Both of these cases will resolve within a few days or weeks. Chronic hoarseness may be caused by the following:

#1. Chronic voice abuse (children or adults who abuse their vocal cords).
#2. Recurrent sinusitis with thick purulent post nasal drip.
#3. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) where gastric acid irritates the vocal cords.
#4. Anatomic: most lesions are benign(nodules/cysts/polyps), malignancies are rare.
#5. Inhaled corticosteroid to treat asthma may cause vocal cord myopathy(weakness).
#6. Trauma: from neck injury or post intubation during surgery(vc paralysis).

A good medical history will help decipher which of the above etiologies may be the cause. Flexible Fiberoptic Rhinoscopy can be performed in our office to determine whether further work ups are necessary. An otolaryngologist (ENT) evaluation and potential voice therapy may be indicated.

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