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Swollen Vocal Fold, Reflux, and Medications

Stephen Gorman, Ph.D,CCC-SLP

October 5, 2009

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Question

What could be causing swollen vocal cords and "redness" on left (only) anterior cord? I have had a nasal laryngeal scope which determined the condition at an ENT appointment. A CT and a swallowing test ordered by the ENT were both unremarkable - no tumor

Answer

Your question is an interesting one given your history of acid reflux. Typically, reflux irritation of the vocal folds occurs posteriorly, although an anterior inflammation is not out of the question, just less likely to happen. Further, if you were truly having reflux events that spill into the anterior larynx, I doubt it would be localized to just the anterior left vocal fold. With regard to the medications/supplements you take, it is possible that the combination of aspirin and fish oil may be sufficiently thinning your blood to result in micro-hemorrhages of the anterior left vocal fold to maintain the swelling and redness. These are merely speculative responses to your question given I have not seen the report of your exam, nor have I seen your vocal folds. I am not trying to make a diagnosis. You should have a videostroboscopic examination to get a closer, more detailed look at the larynx in general and then follow-up with your ENT physician with regard to this. I'm wondering too whether this is causing any hoarseness or throat discomfort.

Stephen Gorman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP has been practicing voice pathology since 1996 at both the Blaine Block Institute for Voice Analysis and Rehabilitation and the Professional Voice Center of Greater Cincinnati. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati in 2002.

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