Have a patient complaining of sore throat? Listen to their voice.
Often times patients won’t complain about a change in their voice because they can’t hear the difference, but to others, you will notice a subtle change.
That subtle change will be a slight muffled sound to their voice. This is often described as a “hot potato voice.” This means that the patient sounds like they have hot food in their mouth while trying to talk. When you actually hear this in person, this is exactly what it sounds like.
If someone has a sore throat with this voice change, you need to rule out a peritonsillar abscess if it is an acute complaint. If this is more chronic in nature (1 month) then malignancy needs to be considered. Generally, a diagnosis of a peritonsillar abscess is clinical in nature, but it is important to also rule out a deep neck lesion, therefore, order a CT scan with contrast of the neck. Treatment will be based off the final diagnosis and includes emergency intervention to specialist referral.
Always use your clinical judgement!