Hoarseness and Related Voice Problems
What is Hoarseness?
Hoarseness is a common term used to describe change to the sound of your voice. Other common terms are roughness, creakiness, scratchiness. The medical term for this voice change is dysphonia. Dysphonia can be caused by many factors. The purpose of your exam is to find out what factors are adding to your voice problem.
You can eat and drink normally before your exam. Allow up to 2 hours for your exam. You will have many tests. You will be seen by both a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and a doctor.
Your visit to the voice clinic may follow the steps below.
- You will begin with a visit with an SLP.
- You will be asked to answer some written questions about your voice problem. The SLP will talk with you about your symptoms in more detail.
- The SLP will take some recordings of what you sound like while reading, speaking, and holding out vowel sounds.
- You will complete an airflow test. The test involves a small mask over your mouth and nose.
- The SLP will take pictures of your voice box with a camera. Sometimes an oral camera is used. This goes in your mouth, but not down your throat. Sometimes another camera that goes in through your nose is used. Anesthetic is sometimes used, based on the type of camera. The pictures of your voice box are not painful. It does not take very long to get the pictures.
- After your visit with the SLP, you will see the doctor. The SLP will review the pictures with the doctor. The SLP and the doctor will come in together to talk with you. You will take part in making the decision about how to treat your voice problem.
- Follow-up visits or referrals to other services will be arranged at that time, if any are needed.
After the Exam
If a topical anesthetic is used to numb your mouth or nose, you should not eat or drink anything for 1 hour after your exam. This will give the numbing medicine time to wear off and your swallowing to return to normal.
You may resume your normal routine after your voice exam.
You may eat your normal diet. Drink plenty of fluids. If you have suspected acid reflux, you will learn how to avoid foods which provoke reflux.
When to Call the Clinic
Call the clinic if
- You have pain when using your voice or swallowing.
- You have sudden voice deterioration or voice loss.
If you have problems breathing, go to the nearest Emergency Department.
ENT (Otolaryngology) Clinic, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm: (608) 263-6190.
After hours, you will be connected to the paging operator. Ask for the ENT (Otolaryngology) doctor on call. Give the operator your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call 1-800-323-8942.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/27/2011
Copyright © 07/27/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7186
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