A scratch in the throat, pain when swallowing and finally the voice is gone. Everyone knows these symptoms of hoarseness from their own experience, albeit due to different causes. But what exactly happens when our voice fails? What are the causes of hoarseness? And how can you treat hoarseness?
How does our voice work?
The larynx is responsible for human voice formation. It lies on the front neck side at the upper end of the trachea. In men, you can see him more or less clearly from the outside as Adam's apple. Inside the larynx, the two vocal cords are stretched.
The free inner margins of the vocal folds are called vocal cords. The vocal folds can be moved through muscles, cartilage and joints, closing the trachea to a small gap. This narrowest part of the trachea is called glottis or glottis.
When breathing, the vocal folds are relaxed so that the air can flow unhindered into and out of the lungs. To create a tone, we tighten the vocal folds. The air that flows from the lungs vibrates the vocal cords. Incidentally, the woodwind instruments bassoon and oboe also work on a similar principle.
The more relaxed the vocal folds, the slower they swing and the tone is deeper. If they are tense, they swing faster and the sound gets higher. From this fundamental tone we form words and sentences with the help of the throat, mouth and nose, we speak or sing, we scream aloud or whisper softly.
What causes hoarseness?
The causes of hoarseness are manifold - but all of them cause our vocal cords can no longer swing freely: We are hoarse, the voice is busy, scratchy or fails completely.
Hoarseness due to infections
Common colds or flu, coughing, coughing and sore throat, and hoarseness can be seen as a sign of the body's infiltration with pathogens. The infection leads to a swelling of the mucous membrane in the area of the vocal cords, so that the vocal cords are limited in their mobility.
Hoarseness due to overload
If the voice is constantly heavily stressed by constant loud singing or speaking, for example, with singers or teachers, this can also lead to hoarseness, because the vocal cords with time slacken.
Due to the constant overexertion swells the mucous membrane on the vocal folds and it form small nodules, the so-called Schrei- or singer nodules. Sometimes, these nodules cause Reinke edema, a swelling of the entire vocal folds. Also polyps, ie benign growths of the mucous membrane, can develop from the vocal cord nodules.
Hoarseness and tumor
Another possible cause of hoarseness may be a laryngeal tumor. Among the benign changes include vocal cord nodules or vocal cord polyps, to the malignant the cancer of the larynx or the lip ligament carcinoma.
Hoarseness after surgery
In neck surgery, the larynx or vagus nerve responsible for vocal cord function may be injured. Even with an intubation, the insertion of a tube into the trachea for ventilation, special attention must be paid to the larynx.
Hoarseness due to pseudo-croup
Pseudokrupp is an inflammation of the larynx by viruses. It often occurs in smaller children between one and five years. There is a swelling of the mucosa just below the vocal cords, leading to the typical barking, harsh cough and hoarseness.
Other causes of a hoarse voice
Smoking and chemical irritants can irritate the mucous membrane in the larynx area to hoarseness - as well as the inhalation of very cold or very dry air. In addition, allergies, tuberculosis, diphtheria or Hashimoto's thyroiditis can produce a hoarse voice.