Frog in your Throat?

When something goes wrong with your voice, you might simply say, “I am hoarse.” Your funny best friend might ask with a smile, “Got a frog in your throat?” Then what? Do you rest your voice? Do you gargle? Do you eat chicken soup? Do you see a doctor? Do you pick up a pill at the pharmacy? Which doctor do you see? What if you are a doctor? Is it simple or difficult to discover the cause of a hoarse voice? What do you need to do to make a diagnosis? Do you look in the mouth? Do you guess? Do you write a prescription for a pill? Unfortunately, after saying, “I am hoarse,” getting a diagnosis can be a long, tough process. You may see your family doctor or even several specialists. You may receive some type of treatment. You may be told that it will get better with time. In any case, you may wonder about the explanations you receive. If you are saying, “I am hoarse,” you have every right to ask your doctor not only what you should do, but, “Why am I hoarse?” Understanding why you are hoarse will more likelyput you on, and keep you on, an optimal treatment path.

Here on my website, I present some of my ideas about voice disorders that with regularity trigger e-mail from people with a voice problem. My patients tell me strikingly similar stories in the office. While each person’s story is their own, frequent themes are:

  • The explanation for my hoarseness doesn’t make sense.
  • I have tried so many treatments without success.

When I put a tiny camera into the throat and show a patient her own vocal cords enlarged on a video screen, I have the sense that the views of the moving vocal cords, coupled with an understandable explanation, often meet the needs of the hoarse patient. Frequently enough, the explanation leads further, to a remedy or a resolution, though at a minimum, it gives at least an understanding by the patient of what her voice problem is. The explanation for the hoarseness makes sense. This understanding seems to be more than she has received before and consequently, I wrote my book so that more people might come to understand hoarseness.

I receive many, many emails that begin with, “I have been diagnosed with as a cause of my hoarseness ...” and they conclude with, “but I am not getting any better. Can you suggest a stronger pill to treat ?” Imagine, before you ask for a stronger pill, would you prefer to have an accurate diagnosis of an infection that is then treated with an average antibiotic or would you rather have the most powerful antibiotic in the world, for a problem which turns out not to be an infection? The accuracy of the diagnosis matters more than power of the treatment. So, a hoarse person with a voice that is not improving is far more likely to be suffering from an inaccurate diagnosis, than from inadequate strength of medication. Therefore I cannot suggest a stronger pill when the assistance I can most likely offer, and really must offer, is a more accurate diagnosis.

Start understanding more about diagnosing hoarseness, by getting your own copy of “Why is There a Frog in my Throat: A Guide to Hoarseness”.