BACKGROUND: Little information is available regarding the prevalence of laryngeal pathology in adults. PURPOSE: To estimate the prevalence of occult laryngeal pathology in a community-based cohort of adults over 40 years of age. METHODS: One hundred consecutive volunteers over age 40 with no history of voice disorders were enrolled. All completed a self-administered laryngeal symptom questionnaire and underwent a comprehensive head and neck examination including transnasal fiberoptic laryngoscopy. RESULTS: The mean age of the cohort was 61 years. Vocal fold bowing (presbylaryngis) was present in 72% of the patients, and findings of laryngopharyngeal reflux were present in 64% of the cohort. In addition, other laryngeal pathology were identified in 21%. Only 12% had a completely normal laryngeal examination. CONCLUSIONS: Occult laryngeal pathology is very common in persons over 40. Findings suggestive of laryngopharyngeal reflux are present in 64%, and vocal fold bowing is present in 72% of persons over 40.
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