My voice is hoarse, but should I be concerned?

Written by: Mr Priy Silva
Edited by: Conor Lynch

Just when should you be worried about a hoarse voice and how should you go about treating it? Here to answer these questions and more is extremely well-regarded Oxford-based consultant ENT and head and neck surgeon, Mr Priy Silva.

When should someone be concerned about hoarseness?

If a hoarse voice fails to settle within a couple of weeks, then this would be a time to consider getting a medical opinion. Whilst it is likely to be nothing of concern, it is sensible to seek expert advice.


Who are the most likely to be affected by hoarseness?

Most people at some point in their lives will have a hoarse voice. They may notice the change in their voice themselves, or their friends or family may comment on the change. People who use their voice as part of their work may be at greater risk.


What are the causes of chronic hoarseness?

There are numerous causes of a hoarse voice. This can commonly include a simple upper respiratory tract infection. Other causes include vocal cord polyps and nodules, and also strain from voice misuse. Less commonly, it may be an early sign of something more concerning such as a cancer.


Can a hoarse voice be permanent?

Whilst the majority are temporary and resolve after a period of time, it may not improve and can indeed be permanent. This would be a reason to obtain a medical opinion and ideally see an ENT specialist.


How is chronic hoarseness treated?

This very much depends on the cause of the hoarse voice. An assessment of your voice box in the clinic will allow a diagnosis to be made. Treatment is directed by the cause. This may include voice therapy, modification of risk factors (e.g smoking), and, if necessary, a biopsy, in order to determine the diagnosis.


What should people do if their hoarse voice does not show any signs of improvement?

It is important to seek medical advice if you have a hoarse voice which fails to resolve. Early intervention will always result in a better outcome. This tends to be irrespective of the cause.


Mr Priy Silva is a highly experienced and revered consultant ENT and head and neck surgeon who specialises in voice disorders and various other throat and voice-affecting conditions. If you have been experiencing hoarseness recently and would like peace of mind, contact Mr Silva directly via his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Priy Silva
Otolaryngology / ENT

Mr Priy Silva is a consultant ENT / head and neck surgeon in Oxford who, in addition to his general adult and paediatric ENT practice, holds a subspecialty interest in cancers of the head and neck, as well as the anterior and lateral skullbase. He undertakes the full range of cancer procedures involving the head and neck. He routinely works with the neurosurgical and plastic surgical teams undertaking complex head and neck operations.

Graduating from medical school in 1999, he completed his surgical training in Manchester, working with a number of leaders in the field. He undertook a two year period of postgraduate research in head and neck cancer at the renowned Christie Cancer Centre, where he was awarded his MD. He presented this work both nationally and internationally.

Mr Silva undertook two advanced surgical fellowships in head and neck surgery initially for two years in Oxford and a further year in Australia. He was then appointed as a consultant with an NHS practice based at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS trust. He is a core member of both the head and neck and skullbase MDT groups. He is chair of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance Group for the Thames Valley Cancer Network. Mr Silva is also the governance lead for ENT.

Mr Silva is currently a member of the guidelines development group for mucosal melanomas of the head and neck. He is also involved in the medical school head and neck anatomy teaching programme at the University of Oxford, which is held annually, and is the clinical lead for this. Mr Silva also has an interest in clinical negligence and medicolegal work and is an expert witness for the GMC. 

As a consultant ENT surgeon, he recognises the importance of being able to see the correct appropriately qualified specialist who can help manage the problems which a patient may face. He also understands the minefield which patients may have to negotiate before they get to see the right individual and receive the best treatment.

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