Losing your voice can be annoying, but it can also be a sign of something more serious.

EVMS Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons says there are five symptoms that signal it’s time to get checked out.

  • Hoarse for more than three weeks
  • Low, raspy or rough voice
  • Frequent need to clear your throat
  • Trouble swallowing or coughing/choking while swallowing    

What can cause these issues? It could be something very simple like a cold or overuse, but in some cases, it could be a sign of throat cancer.  Other causes include vocal chord lesions or reflux.

There are a number of preventative steps you can take to avoid voice problems. “Smoking is the leading cause of laryngeal cancer,” says John Sinacori, MD, Professor of Otolaryngology at EVMS. “In addition to that, it irritates tissues used for singing and speaking.” Dr. Sinacori says avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also a good idea, “They dehydrate the vocal folds, which can increase vocal fold damage. If you use them, increase your water intake to compensate for their drying effects.”

If you experience any of the above vocal issues, it’s best to see a professional. Make an appointment or learn more by calling 757.388.6200 or visit EVMS Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons online.