What Causes Hoarseness?

Hoarseness is often a sign of an issue with the vocal folds in your larynx. Symptoms include a raspy/strained sound to your voice and a lower pitch than usual. There are a number of different things that can cause hoarseness, and it is important to get a proper diagnosis so you can treat it correctly. Listed below are several things that can cause hoarseness.

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR)

LPR, more commonly known as acid reflux, usually occurs when stomach acid rises up to the throat and damages the tissues there. Symptoms include:

  • Heartburn
  • Bad breath
  • A taste of acid in the mouth
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation
  • Hoarseness
  • Feeling of a lump in th throat
  • Throat clearing
  • Troublesome or annoying cough
  • Breathing difficulties or choking episodes
  • Excess throat mucous

It can even damage your teeth if not treated effectively. It can also cause hoarseness and is often worse in the morning. Stomach acid can occasionally rise all the way up to the larynx and irritate the vocal folds – this is referred to as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR). Medications are usually used to treat GERD & LPR, but structural dietary change removes the need for medication and is most of the time more effective.


Laryngitis is perhaps the most common cause of hoarseness and is defined as an inflammation of the larynx. It can have a number of different causes, with the main ones being infection, irritation, or overuse. The vocal cords inside the larynx swell when they become inflamed or irritated, distorting the sound coming out of them – this can lead to hoarseness.

There are different ways to treat laryngitis (depending on the cause of the disease) – painkillers and other medications may be prescribed by a doctor, and if it has been caused by a respiratory infection, rest and fluids may be advised. Most cases of laryngitis are viral and go away fairly quickly, but chronic laryngitis can also occur from repeated chronic irritation of the vocal cords.

Overusing your voice

Your voice is an instrument and can be strained by overuse – for example, cheering at a concert or a sports game, or by talking for too long without resting your voice. This can lead to hoarseness. However, the good news is that it’s easily treatable – recommendations for curing hoarseness caused by overuse or strain include resting your voice, drinking lots of water, and resting. Some people may develop chronic hoarseness if their job depends on using their voice regularly (for example teachers, clergy, salespeople, courtroom workers, call center workers, receptionists, or commentators) and speech therapy may be required. Professional voice users i.e., singers, actors, and broadcast personalities also need good advice on how to maintain their voices.

Book an appointment for hoarseness

If you’re experiencing any issues with hoarseness, book a consultation with Mr. Wale Olarinde. ENT Sheffield can help to diagnose and treat your throat problems effectively and efficiently.