Thyroid disease and thyroid cancer can have an effect on your voice. So if you experience your voice going hoarse when you havn’t had a cold, you should have your thyroid checked. Naomi Parker explains why this happens and what you should do if it does.

Have you ever been in the middle of a sentence and all of a sudden your voice goes hoarse? Most of the time we write it off as no big deal or we think it may be due to the onset of a cold or getting over a cold, but what if you haven’t had a cold in a long time and this still happens? What if it keeps happening more and more frequently? Should you still write it off as nothing? No. A hoarse voice could be indication of a thyroid issue.

The thyroid is the butterfly shaped endocrine gland in your neck. More specifically, the thyroid gland lies on the windpipe just below the larynx, also known as the voice box. Because the thyroid gland and the larynx are so close together various dysfunctions of the thyroid can cause issues with the voice.

Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, is when the gland is not producing enough of the hormones or not enough of the thyroid hormones are being converted to the active form. This can result in a deepening of the voice. The voice change is due to a thickening of vocal cords from mucopolysaccharide. Mucopolysaccharide, also known as glycosaminoglycans, is sugar molecules found throughout the body in mucus and in fluid surrounding the joints. This buildup lowers the note produced by the voice box. The thyroid hormone helps prevent this buildup so when the gland isn’t producing enough, it can lead to a deepening of the voice.

Voice changes can also occur when masses or nodules are present. These growths are thyroid tissue that has grown and frequently the cause is unknown. These growths cause stretching in the laryngeal nerve. There are various types of nodules which include,

  • Colloid nodules – overgrowths of normal thyroid tissue
  • Thyroid cysts – growths that either contain fluid or partially solid
  • Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules – growths that produce thyroid hormone

You may be at a higher risk for thyroid nodules if there is a family history of them or other endocrine cancers. Also, depending on your age, you may be at higher risk. The older you are, the more likely it is. It is also more common to develop nodules if you are a woman.

In addition, certain thyroid cancers can cause laryngitis. This is most common with anaplastic carcinoma. Anaplastic carcinoma, also known as anaplastic thyroid cancer, is extremely aggressive and is resistance to treatments. This type of cancer invades the surrounding tissues. Among other issues, this can lead to a paralysis of the larynx or fixation/paralysis of the vocal cords.

Of course not all vocal issues are related to thyroid dysfunction, but it is important to check when having a sudden onset of laryngitis or you notice your voice becoming increasingly deeper/raspier. The test can be a simple blood test or ultrasound. Besides, you don’t want to lose your singing voice, right?

About the Author

Naomi Parker

Patient Advocate

Naomi Parker is a patient advocate that is enthralled by the medical field. Hypothyroidism became a topic of interest over the last few years while she worked amongst alternative medicine doctors as a front office assistant. She believes that information is key and strives to become better informed so as to help others achieve success and wellness.

Naomi has written various articles concerning hypothyroidism including information on diagnostics and treatment. She enjoys learning alongside others and passing on vital information regarding this condition. Naomi is actively monitoring and writing for NAH both on the site and social media.

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