When fluid gets collected at a particular location of our body. It results in the swelling of that area forming an Edema. When this edema is formed in the vocal folds, it is called Reinke’s Edema. It is also named as Polyploid Degeneration. This gives our vocal folds and uneven sac-like swelling. This disease in named after A German anatomist who identified this disease. His name was Friedrich Berthold Reinke (1862-1919).
Our vocal folds or Vocal cords (as it is known as commonly) have a twin infolding of mucous membrane. These infoldings are stretched across our larynx horizontally. When air passes through these infoldings from our lungs, these infoldings vibrate to modulate the air flow. Vocal fold infoldings are open while inhalation and closed during exhalation. These are white in color because of their insufficient blood supply and are controlled by the Vague Nerve.
Most common symptoms of Reinke’s Edema are its sac-like appearance, husky and low-pitched voice.
Smoking, chronic voice abuse (or misuse) and hormonal abnormality in the body (like – Hypothyroidism) are the common causes of Reinke’s Edema. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also known as Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) or Gastric reflux disease; otherwise also known as Acid reflux disease. This is a chronic symptom where the body fluids flow backwards abnormally (called the reflux). This reflux occurs in the esophagus. The barrier present between the stomach and the esophagus undergoes certain changes. This results in this condition.
Diagnosis is generally carried out by the Physician seeing the symptoms, but Biopsy is also performed for the accurate diagnosis in few cases.
First step in the treatment is to stop the exposure of the irritant (like smoking, vocal misuse) to the affected site. This is very important in checking the edema formation. Surgery may be done for restoration of the voice though complete restoration of voice to its original form is not possible.