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May 04, 2014

How Common is Hoarseness?

At some point, we all have suffered from a hoarse voice whether from illness or from yelling. However, it was unclear exactly how common this malady is until now... and apparently, the answer is "very common"...

According to a study looking to answer this question, hoarseness affected 17.9 million adults in 2012.   The average age was 49 years old and 63% were women. Overall, 10% saw a health care professional for their hoarseness and 40% were given a diagnosis.

Infectious laryngitis was the most common diagnosis mentioned (685±86 thousand cases, 17.8±2.0%). Gastroesophageal reflux disease was mentioned in 308±54 thousand cases (8.0±1.4%).

33% reported their voice problem to be a significant problem. Bad enough that the mean number of days the hoarseness lasted was about 56 days. Because of the hoarseness, patients missed work about one week in the past year.

A general rule of thumb is to see your local ENT if the hoarseness lasts more than 1 week. Intervention can be performed to minimize the duration of hoarseness as well as to alleviate the morbidity associated with this problem.

Another general rule of thumb is to minimize using your voice if it becomes unexpectedly hoarse.

Reference:
The prevalence of voice problems among adults in the United States. Laryngoscope. 2014 Apr 29. doi: 10.1002/lary.24740.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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