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, 80 (4), 363-70

Hoarseness in Adults

  • PMID: 19678604

Hoarseness in Adults

Raymond H Feierabend et al. Am Fam Physician.


Numerous conditions can cause hoarseness, ranging from simple inflammatory processes to more serious systemic, neurologic, or cancerous conditions involving the larynx. Evaluation of a patient with hoarseness includes a careful history, physical examination, and in many cases, laryngoscopy. Any patient with hoarseness lasting longer than two weeks in the absence of an apparent benign cause requires a thorough evaluation of the larynx by direct or indirect laryngoscopy. The management of hoarseness includes identification and treatment of any underlying conditions, vocal hygiene, voice therapy, and specific treatment of vocal cord lesions. Vocal hygiene education is an integral aspect of the treatment of hoarseness in most cases. Referral to a speech-language pathologist for voice therapy may be particularly helpful for patients whose occupation depends on singing or talking loudly or for prolonged periods. Voice therapy is an effective method for improving voice quality and vocal performance in patients with nonorganic dysphonia and for treating many benign pathologic vocal cord lesions. Referral for surgical or other targeted interventions is indicated when conservative management of vocal cord pathology is unsuccessful, when dysplasia or carcinoma is suspected, or when significant airway obstruction is present.

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