Monday, April 16, 2012

Laryngitis Lasting Longer Than 1 Year

I've had severe laryngitis for over a year. It started when I caught a nasty bug with an accompanying terrible cough. I had an ENT specialist look at my throat at the time. I managed to swallow a chicken bone at the same time, so he actually looked in my throat twice initially. I went to see a speech therapist, but wasn't convinced that was going to help. Somehow speaking in falseto just didn't seem to be the answer for me. They put me on Spireva to help with the flu / cold and augment my other asthma medicine (Advair 500 / 50 twice a day). I was on Spireva for several months and finally stopped. It seemed to be giving me an abundance of sticky phlegm in my throat. I can now barely speak. I continue to have a cough, although it is not nearly as bad. When I can actually cough something up it's tinged brownish. I'm on 80 mg of Omeprazole because the doctors thought my problems were from GERD (I'm obese). The ENT has now looked down my throat a 2nd time and can see nothing wrong. I'm on 2 doses of Lasix because my breathing became so labored I couldn't make it from one side of my small house without taking a break to catch my breath. My feet swelled so much, my podiatrist was alarmed that I could be having heart problems. I am chronically tired. Walking from the car to the house wears me out, even when I can catch my breath. I've had breathing tests, an echocardiogram, and a stress test. Everyone says I'm just fine. But, obviously, something IS wrong. I'm scheduled to see a laryngologist (sp??) on 5/7 and want to make sure I ask the right questions so I can get some real help. My livelihood depends on my ability to talk -- I'm a recruiter. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. 

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...
A laryngologist will perform what is called a laryngeal stroboscopic examination, which is the gold standard in the evaluation of the larynx and vocal folds. I'm sure that your laryngologist will be able to secure a dignosis, but be sure to ask about the possibility of muscle tension dysphonia, or a voice disorder characterized by excessive tension of the muscles of the larynx. This is often the situation when vocal problems persist despite what seems to be an essentially normal laryngeal exam; the treatment is voice therapy with a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders.

Best of luck to you.

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