Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Expert Forum
Does COPD cause hoarseness?
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Does COPD cause hoarseness?

I am a 60 year old male. I was recently diagnosed with mild COPD based on my LFT. I've smoked since I was about 19 years old and used all kinds of tobacco products except chewing tobacco. I quit about a one and a half week ago. I seem to have more of the chronic bronchitis component rather than emphysema. I have a cough with a lot of mucous but only mild breathlessness upon exertion.

My question is about hoarseness. My voice gets lower in pitch and kind of "croaky". It's intermittent, can come on at any time and seems to happen after I haven't talked in a few minutes or so. I've had this for about six months. I do not have a sore throat or GERD (as far as I know). I also have sleep apnea and use a CPAP device. I have high cholesterol and take a statin which controls it well. I'm not taking any medications for the COPD.

Should I be concerned about the hoarseness? Thanks in advance for any guidance you can give me.

Regards,
Jim
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Hoarseness is not directly associated with COPD.  Only indirectly, as both hoarseness and COPD can be associated with smoking tobacco.  The tobacco-associated hoarseness can arise from disease of the larynx or vocal cords, either inflammation or tumor growth.  It can also occur in response to post-nasal drip secondary to cigarette-smoke induced chronic sinusitis.

That being the case, it would be most unwise to conclude that recent onset (6 months) hoarseness is secondary to the irritant effects of tobacco smoke.  Every instance of recent onset, persistent hoarseness should be thoroughly evaluated; never ignored or attributed to a benign cause.  To be thorough, the evaluation must include direct examination of your larynx (voice-box) by a physician, experienced in conducting this examination with the use of an instrument, called a fiberoptic laryngoscope.  The examiner may be an ENT or Internal Medicine specialist, a Pulmonary Specialist (Pulmonologist) a Family Practitioner or a Surgeon.  The specialist, most likely to provide a very good examination, would usually be an ENT or Pulmonary specialist.

Persistent hoarseness must be taken seriously, as it may be a sign of serious disease.  My strong advice is that you not delay at all in making arrangements for this examination.

I hope that your hoarseness is secondary to smoking-induced inflammation, in which case it might well resolve with smoking cessation.

Good luck.
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