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The prevalence of voice problems among adults in the United States.

Laryngoscope 2014 October
OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: Determine the prevalence of voice problems and types of voice disorders among adults in the United States.

STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional analysis of a national health survey.

METHODS: The 2012 National Health Interview Survey was analyzed, identifying adult cases reporting a voice problem in the preceding 12 months. In addition to demographic data, specific data regarding visits to healthcare professionals for voice problems, diagnoses given, and severity of the voice problem were analyzed. The relationship between voice problems and lost workdays was investigated.

RESULTS: An estimated 17.9 ± 0.5 million adults (mean age, 49.1 years; 62.9% ± 1.2% female) reported a voice problem (7.6% ± 0.2%). Overall, 10.0% ± 0.1% saw a healthcare professional for their voice problem, and 40.3% ± 1.8% were given a diagnosis. Females were more likely than males to report a voice problem (9.3% ± 0.3% vs. 5.9% ± 0.3%, P < .001). Overall, 22% and 11% reported their voice problem to be a moderate or a big/very big problem, respectively. Infectious laryngitis was the most common diagnosis mentioned (685,000 ± 86,000 cases, 17.8% ± 2.0%). Gastroesophageal reflux disease was mentioned in 308,000 ± 54,000 cases (8.0% ± 1.4%). The mean number of days affected with the voice problem in the past year was 56.2 ± 2.6 days. Respondents with a voice problem reported 7.4 ± 0.9 lost workdays in the past year versus 3.4 ± 0.1 lost workdays for those without (contrast, +4.0 lost workdays; P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Voice problems affect one in 13 adults annually. A relative minority seek healthcare for their voice problem, even though the self-reported subjective impact of the voice problem is significant.

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