This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
using your voice is difficult, then you know what dysphonia is. The more common
name for this disorder is hoarseness.
Experts say about
one in three people will become hoarse at some point in their lives. In the
United States alone, an estimated twenty million are affected at any given
Infections, smoking and using your voice
too much, too loudly or just incorrectly can all cause hoarseness. It happens
more commonly in women, children, the elderly and those who use their voice a
lot in their jobs. Experts say hoarseness costs several billion dollars a year
in lost productivity from people missing work.
Now, doctors have the first treatment guidelines from
the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Foundation.
The new guidelines recognize that most cases are not
serious and go away within a few days. But hoarseness can also be a sign of
Doctor Richard Rosenfeld helped develop the
RICHARD ROSENFELD: "We want to really call
attention to the fact that hoarseness is not just a symptom. It occurs as a
result of something underlying which can be potentially serious."
says there are some situations where people should get examined sooner rather
RICHARD ROSENFELD: "So if you have hoarseness with
tobacco or alcohol use, that would be a significant risk factor for cancer or
other problems of the throat that could be serious. If you have any sort of a
mass or growth in your neck at the same time, that would be very suspicious."
same is true if hoarseness begins after an accident or injury. Or if you are also
losing weight for no reason. Or if you are trying to rest your voice but it keeps
If hoarseness continues
or the cause is unknown, doctors should perform an examination called a laryngoscopy.
This is done in the doctor's office to look down the throat at the voice box
and vocal chords.
guidelines urge doctors not to use other imaging methods like CT or MRI scans until
they have done this. They are also advised not to give anti-reflux medicines
for hoarseness unless they are sure patients need them. And doctors are told
that steroids or antibiotics given by mouth are not recommended for hoarseness.
The guidelines say
voice therapy is a well-recognized intervention. And they suggest ways to avoid
getting hoarse. Drink lots of water. Avoid tobacco smoke and other irritants. And
for people who use their voices a lot, like singers or professional speakers, get
voice training and use an amplifier.
And that's the VOA Special English Health Report, written
by June Simms. I'm Steve Ember.