How smoking affects your voice | Ohio State Medical Center


DR. LAURA MATRKA: We do see a lot of patients
who smoke, and some of them are singers and voice professionals, and they want to quit
— they just haven’t been able to yet. Some of them will tell us that they’ve always had
a hoarse voice but then they’ll have a change. Many times in women it’s a deepening of
the voice, and in men sometimes it’s just a raspiness. Some of the common things that
we’ll find in those patients, one is something called polypoid corditis, or “smoker’s polyps” is
what it’s called. And it’s not really clear yet based on the studies that we have whether that
represents an increased risk of cancer or not. So a lot of times we’ll follow those
patients every year or so if we find, if we perform a scope in the office and we find
that they have smoker’s polyps. One of the more concerning things that we’ll see in smokers
who have voice changes is something called leukoplakia. And that means a little white
patch on the vocal cords that sometimes is a precancerous condition. The bad news is
that it could be precancerous, but the good news is that if you catch that early, it’s
very treatable and we almost — we very often can biopsy that or treat it with a laser and
get rid of it long before it turns into a cancer. We’re always more careful with our
patients who are still smoking to make sure that they don’t have vocal cord changes that
could represent a precancer.

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