Symptoms include raspiness and significantly lowered vocal pitch. For this reason, women more frequently notice the symptoms than men, who already have a low-pitched voice. The swelling can get so large that it can partially block the airway, causing a sensation of shortness of breath.
Diagnosis is made through visual inspection via laryngoscopy—a flexible camera inserted into the throat to examine the vocal folds.
Cessation of smoking is essential in the treatment for Reinke’s edema—otherwise, the swelling almost always returns after treatment. Sometimes, the cessation of smoking alone will improve a mild case of edema to the point that treatment is not necessary. Treatment of Reinke’s edema can be performed in the operating room with surgical removal or in the office with laser therapy.
Prognosis for Reinke’s edema is generally excellent, and most patients will notice an improvement in voice quality.