Hoarseness (dysphonia) and Huskiness

Dysphonia is a difficulty in speaking caused by a physical disorder of the vocal folds (cords, chords), mouth, tongue, or throat. Hoarseness or huskiness is a symptom of vocal abuse and in this case misusing the voice in such a way that you are self-harming.

The sound is low and rough, but not necessarily painful.  It is often thought to be a ‘sexy’ sound but believe me, it’s unhealthy, and those who think it’s an asset and refuse to rest the voice and swollen vocal folds, will have heaps more trouble.

Hoarseness or huskiness occurs when the vocal folds are swollen along the length of the vocal fold tissues and impairs efficient and effective vibration for the sound to be of quality.  The vocal folds do not have complete closure, and therefore touch with an uneven surface.  Soldering on should be discouraged as the voice could result in a whisper or completely disappear altogether (laryngitis). When the vocal folds are swollen and closure of the vocal folds are incomplete, the laryngeal muscles are forced to overwork to produce a sound.  This results in vocal strain and can damage the vocal folds.

If you are hoarse for more than two weeks, seek professional advice.  Let your doctor know if your voice is your livelihood as s/he should avoid giving you drying (dehydrating) medications, which will further exacerbate the dysphonia.


  • dehydration
  • sore throat
  • cold and flus
  • shouting, over speaking, over singing
  • allergic reactions causing dryness or excess mucus
  • asthma, which might reduce lung capacity can contribute
  • incorrect posture increases vocal strain as the laryngeal muscles are overworked
  • stress, anxiety, depression
  • poor speech habits
  • air-conditioning / central heating
  • constant throat clearing
  • too much alcohol
  • medications / decongestants, which have a drying effect
  • medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which may cause local bleeding
  • smoking / vaping 1st- and 2nd-hand (non-passive and passive)
  • tiredness
  • excess use of the telephone
  • hormones – monthlies, pregnancy, menopause

Some girls experience mild hoarseness in their early teenage and pubescent years, which should disappear in their 20s.


About Amanda

I became a Voice Practitioner and Complementary Therapist to be able to help with all-round support, not just addressing vocal issues, but also ensuring that mind and body are equally healthy to be able to support the voice. For further details of ‘my journey’ please read more here, or reach out on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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