Hoarseness describes a change in vocal quality. There may be other symptoms associated with hoarseness, such as coughing, depending on the underlying cause. Common causes include a variety of illnesses, infection, smoking and cancer, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Throat hoarseness may or may not be painful. Treatment of the underlying cause is the best way to remedy the problem, but there are several ways to provide temporary relief of the symptoms.
Acid reflux is a common cause of hoarseness. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests reducing caffeine, discontinuing late-night eating and sleeping with an elevated head to reduce the likelihood of developing a sore throat from the return of acid from the stomach. There are many over-the-counter and prescription-strength medications available to reduce the production of acid and to limit the acid's ability to make its way back up the esophagus.
When hoarseness is caused by a tumor or other obstruction of the vocal cords or throat, surgery is often required to remove the object. The American Academy of Family Physicians also points out that radiation therapy may be used to remove cancerous growths that lead to throat discomfort.
Allergies commonly cause symptoms that contribute to hoarseness, including nasal drainage, congestion and the production of excess mucus. Treating allergies with over-the-counter or prescription medications can alleviate the symptoms, including throat hoarseness. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends avoiding decongestants as they can contribute to throat dryness. Other methods of combating allergies include avoiding known allergens, practicing adequate hygiene to remove the allergens and carrying out thorough housekeeping activities to keep allergens out of the home.
Shouting often can cause hoarseness and exacerbate existing throat discomfort. It is important to use the lowest voice volume possible when throat soreness is present. Protecting the vocal cords when they are inflamed can help diminish the discomfort experienced as well. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends not using the voice at all when it is hoarse so as to help soothe the underlying inflammation and discomfort.
Drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated, alcoholic or carbonated beverages can promote proper hydration. Honey in warm tea can be soothing by coating the throat for temporary relief. Carrying out sufficient oral hygiene activities, such as brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash, can help remove irritants like bacteria and reduce hoarseness.