What is Throat Polyps: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What are Throat Polyps?

Throat Polyps are benign growth of flesh that develops in the throat. These benign growths are usually found on the vocal cords and tend to have various causes in regard to their occurrence. People who are most at risk for developing Throat Polyps are those who tend to overuse their vocal cords a lot like singers, coaches, physical education teachers who tend to yell and shout a lot at their students during practice and hence are predisposed towards development of Throat Polyps. Tobacco abuse and chain smokers are also at risk for developing Throat Polyps. Medical conditions like hypothyroidism and acid reflux can also predispose an individual towards developing Throat Polyps. Polypoid degeneration or Reinke’s edema are some of the names given to Throat Polyps.

What are Throat Polyps?

What Causes Throat Polyps?

As stated, screaming and yelling is the main cause for development of Throat Polyps. Even a single traumatic event like screaming at a concert can cause Throat Polyps. Apart from this, medical conditions like acid reflux, hypothyroidism, chronic cigarette smoking are some of the other causes of Throat Polyps. Vocal cord abuse also tends to cause Throat Polyps and some of the ways that vocal cord abuse happens are:

  • Excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol, since it dries up the throat and the vocal cords
  • Cheer leading, as it requires a lot of yelling and screaming
  • Speaking loudly like during a debate or a public meeting
  • Singing
  • Tense vocal cord muscles.

What are the Symptoms of Throat Polyps?

Throat Polyps may appear as a small nodule, swelling, bump, or a lesion that may resemble a blister, or they even may be bigger than that. Depending on the size of the Throat Polyps the following symptoms may be experienced by an individual:

How is Throat Polyps Diagnosed?

The most classic symptom that an individual presents with to the physician is the hoarseness of voice which becomes chronic and does not change. This will cause the physician to check the throat for any signs of growth in there that may be cancerous. Once the throat is examined and the results are negative then a procedure called as laryngoscopy will be performed which will give a clear look at the vocal cords and the presence of any Throat Polyps can be easily visualized through this procedure. A small section of the polyp may be cut and sent for biopsy to the laboratory. This test will confirm the diagnosis of Throat Polyps.

How is Throat Polyps Treated?

The treatment of Throat Polyps depends on what is the underlying cause of it. in case if smoking is the cause of Throat Polyps then the patient will be counseled to quit smoking to treat Throat Polyps and also for general overall health.

If overuse of voice and shouting and yelling is the cause for throat polyps then the most preferred treatment is to give rest to the vocal cords and allowing it to heal on its own. This may look easy but when put in practice it is very difficult for anyone to completely stop talking altogether. If these conservative approaches are not sufficient enough to shrink the Throat Polyps then surgery may be recommended to remove the polyps and treat the condition.

The surgery for Throat Polyps is quite simple and is done under general anesthesia. The polyps are removed one by one depending on what their numbers are and what are the sizes.

The patient will then be sent for speech and voice therapy for retraining in order to get the original voice back which the patient loses due to Throat Polyps. In majority of the cases, once the Throat Polyps have been removed and the patient stays away from the underlying cause then recurrence of the polyps is very rare and in a few weeks the patient can get his or her normal voice back, although in some cases removal of polyps have caused some change in the voice although such cases are few and far between. Other than this, once the polyps are removed successfully, an individual can get back to normal activities within a few days after removal of Throat Polyps.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 17, 2022

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