A common cause of hoarseness in adults and in children is laryngopharyngeal reflux. This is more commonly found in adults and occurs when gastric acid refluxes up into the pharynx and larynx. This causes irritation of the vocal folds with some swelling of the vocal folds as well as increased production of thick mucous. Many patients complain of voice changes that are worse in the morning and get better during the day. They frequently complain of painful swallowing, which is called odynophagia, and a persistent foreign body sensation in their throat with frequent throat clearing. They also frequently complain of thick mucous. Interestingly enough, up to 60% of these patients do not complain of classic reflux symptoms, such as heartburn. In several studies, this type of reflux was found to occur more commonly during the day and consists of brief periods where the stomach acid spills over onto the vocal cords. Treatment with medications that decrease the production of stomach acid have been found to greatly improve the voice quality, difficulty swallowing and foreign body sensation, as well as decreasing throat clearing. Modification in your diet may be of benefit, specifically decreasing caffeine intake. Decreasing or quitting smoking, avoidance of large meals prior to going to bed at night, and elevation of the head of the bed can all decrease the episodes of reflux.
Dr. Gibbs is fellowship-trained in laryngology / voice disorders.
For additional information or to make an appointment, please contact River Cities Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, P.L.L.C. at (304) 522-8800 or (800) 955-3277
Scott R. Gibbs, M.D.
Touma Ear and Balance Center
1616 13th Avenue, Suite 100
Huntington, WV 25701
304.522.8800 or 800.955.3277