Voice Symptoms in Patients with Autoimmune Disease: A Cross-sectional Epidemiological Study

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Abstract

Objective.

To assess the prevalence and severity of voice symptoms in individuals with a diagnosis of autoimmune disease.

Study Design.

Cross-sectional survey. Setting. Study participants were recruited from a rheumatology tertiary referral clinic at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Subjects and Methods.

A cross-sectional questionnaire analyzing 109 patients with autoimmune disease (rheumatoid arthritis, seronegative spondyloarthritis, connective tissue disease) and a control group of 41 patients with non-autoimmune disease (osteoarthritis/osteoporosis). Main outcome measures were the Voice Handicap Index-10 (VHI-10), xerostomia scale, acid reflux inquiry, and anxiety/ depression scale.

Results.

Patients with autoimmune disease were more likely to experience voice symptoms as assessed by the VHI-10 questionnaire (P = .0035). Subgroup analysis showed autoimmune patients were more likely to report voice symptoms regardless of whether they were on a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD; P = .0010) or non-DMARD (P = .017), suggesting autoimmune disease may be an independent risk factor from pharmacotherapy. Xerostomia was more common in an autoimmune population compared with the control group (P = .02). A positive correlation between xerostomia and VHI-10 scores was found for the DMARD group (Spearman rank coefficient = 0.49, P < .001). No significant difference in acid reflux inquiry (P = .44) or the anxiety/depression scale (P = .36) was found when comparing the autoimmune and control groups.

Conclusion.

Patients with autoimmune disease have increased likelihood of voice symptoms when compared with a control population with non-autoimmune disease. Further prospective studies to elucidate the cause of voice disorder would be valuable.

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