Most cases of hoarseness are due to viral infections or overuse of the voice and the problem will get better over a few days. However you should see a doctor if have been hoarse for longer than three weeks, particularly if you are or have been a smoker.
It is estimated that between 3 – 10% of the general population are affected by voice disorders, with the main symptom being hoarseness or dysphonia (an alteration in voice quality). Voice disorders can affect anyone but are more common amongst people who use their voice a lot in their day-to-day life. These so called ‘voice professionals’ include people who depend on their voice for their profession for example, teachers, singers, lawyers, trainers, lecturers and even doctors.
Assessing voice disorders
The voice clinic at The Holly Private Hospital is led by Mr Abir Bhattacharyya, Consultant ENT Surgeon.
It is designed to help people affected by voice disorders such as ongoing hoarseness or dysphonia. Patients coming to the clinic are assessed jointly by both the Consultant ENT doctor and the speech therapist who work together to deliver the best treatment approach to patients.
How are Voice Disorders treated?
There are three general approaches to managing voice problems: medical, surgical, and behavioural including speech therapy. It many cases, patients require a combination of treatment types.
The medical approach to the treatment of voice disorders refers to non-invasive techniques. Laryngeal problems in which the vocal cords demonstrate redness, swelling or irritation (e.g. laryngopharyngeal reflux) can be medically treated. Treatment of acid reflux plays an important role.
Surgical Management (Phonosurgery)
Many voice box (laryngeal) conditions like vocal fold cysts, polyps, swelling (oedema) and other benign, precancerous and malignant conditions are treated surgically.
Speech Therapy and Behavioural Management
The behavioural approach consists of voice therapy which aims at restoring the best voice possible within the patient’s anatomical, physiological and psychological capacity.
The voice clinic is held on alternate Wednesday evenings from 6.00pm to 7.30pm in the Out-patients Department.