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Definition of Hoarseness

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Hoarseness: Hoarseness is a term referring to abnormal voice changes. Hoarseness may be manifested as a voice that sounds breathy, strained, rough, raspy, or a voice that has higher or lower pitch. There are many causes of hoarseness, including viral laryngitis, vocal cord nodules, laryngeal papillomas, gastroesophageal reflux-related laryngitis, and environmental irritants (such as tobacco smoking). An accumulation of fluid in the vocal cords associated with hoarseness has been termed Reinke's edema. Reinke's edema may occur as a result of cigarette smoking or voice abuse (prolonged or extended talking or shouting). Rarely, hoarseness results from serious conditions such as cancers of the head and neck region.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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