Skip Navigation

Voice & Swallowing Disorders

Hoarseness (Dysphonia) Explained

Hoarseness, also known as dysphonia, is a common problem that may have serious causes. A patient who has been hoarse for three weeks or more should be evaluated by an otolaryngologist.

Patients often attribute their hoarseness to a recent respiratory infection, although months may have passed and all other symptoms of the infection have long since disappeared. While respiratory viruses are one possible cause of chronic hoarseness, other causes may include: 

  • Carcinoma, typically a Squamous Cell variety
  • Acid reflux, or silent reflux – laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Benign lesions, such as nodules, polyps, and cysts
  • Aging of the larynx (presbylaryngis)
  • Neuropathy, often from prolonged intubation, surgical trauma, malignancy
  • Tumors and arterial abnormalities of the chest, both of which can interfere with the course of the recurrent laryngeal nerve

The evaluation of a patient experiencing dysphonia begins with a fiber optic laryngoscopy, which may be coupled with videostroboscopy to capture how the vocal folds move and vibrate. A laryngeal electromyography (EMG), which is done in concert with a neurologist, may be performed. For this procedure, we use a fine electrode and insert it into the muscles of the larynx. From these recordings, our physicians are able to evaluate the health and strength of the muscles in the larynx.

Make an Appointment

If you are suffering from hoarseness (dysphonia) call 716-WAKE or request an appointment online.

Quick Reference

The Voice Center
Find a Doctor Ways to Give
Last Updated: 07-28-2016
Wake Forest Baptist Ranked among Nation’s ‘Best Hospitals’  25 Years in a Row by U.S. News & World ReportComprehensive Cancer Centers National Designation is Renewed2017-2018 Best DoctorsNursing Magnet StatusJoint Commission Report

Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.

© Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157. All Rights Reserved.