A hoarse voice can have many causes, and this includes acid reflux, laryngeal cancer and an aortic aneurysm.
Have you been bothered by a hoarse voice lately that doesn’t seem to have a cause such as excessive yelling or a cold?
A hoarse voice in the morning is normal, but what about in general?
“Many things can cause hoarseness,” says Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology; one of her specialties is sinus surgery.
“Laryngitis (viral inflammation of the vocal chords); vocal cord nodules or polyps; long-term smoking irritates the vocal cords causing chronic swelling; vocal cancer, and very commonly acid reflux,” continues Dr. Silvers.
“Acid from the stomach comes up and irritates the back of the throat, causing it to swell. This swelling affects the quality of the voice and causes hoarseness.”
Acid reflux is also known as GERD: gastroesophageal reflux disease.
A thoracic aortic aneurysm, though not a likely cause of a hoarse voice, can still cause this problem.
An aneurysm is a dilated (enlarged) or ballooned portion of an artery.
The nerve that innervates the vocal cords passes near a section of the ascending aorta, the great vessel that branches out from the heart.
If part of this vessel, in this location, is enlarged, it could make contact with the nerve.
So if you’re a nonsmoker and an E.N.T. doctor tells you your vocal cords look normal, that you don’t have GERD or an infection, you haven’t been doing any shouting, yet the hoarseness just won’t go away, it may be time to visit a cardiologist.
An NYC expert in ear, nose and throat care, Dr. Silvers has been named among America’s Top Physicians and Surgeons in facial plastic surgery and otolaryngology numerous times since 2003.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.