Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chemical Burn on Larynx

Five weeks ago, a singer friend of mine used bleach to clean a small room. They then applied KILZ followed by paint over a three day period. My friend is chemically sensitive and evidently the fumes from this mixture of household chemicals produced a chemical burn on their larynx. It has been 5 weeks and their voice does not seem close to being restored. We are in the care of an ENT specialist, however the ENT has not prescribed any medications and has done nothing other than visually observe the healing process every two weeks. Also, we would like some sense of milestones or benchmarks to determine if progress is being made at a normal rate. Can anyone give an idea how long is customary for a person to recover from accidentally breathing these types of household chemicals? Of course it will vary from person to person, but should we be thinking in terms of 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc? Any metrics we can use to measure progress? Thank you

Barbara Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S replies...

I understand your concern for your friend.  However, we do not have a structured protocol or metric that I can share with you regarding chemical exposure.  Possible medication interventions and course of recovery is multi factorial.  A complete examination by an ENT as your friend has sought is very important.  I suggest obtaining a second opinion via a complete evaluation by an otolaryngologist and speech pathologist.   This is the only way to assess the extent of irritation and mucosal changes caused by the chemical exposure.

Please let me know if you have additional questions and concerns.

Barbara Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S
Clinical Specialist in Head & Neck Rehabilitation and Swallowing Disorders
Voice Clinician
The Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center
The Johns Hopkins Voice Center at GBMC

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