[Member Discussions and Questions] Rheumatoid Arthritis involvement in Throat / Voicebox area?

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December 2, 2013

Niki wrote:

Okay lets talk about RA involvement in throat / voicebox area. Do you deal with this? Yesterday I noticed every time I swallowed, dry or not, that area would snap, pop like one of my joints and pop back. :/ Sexy, I know. What symptoms or issues do you have thanks to Arthur(itis) in this region?

Your input and sharing is greatly appreciated. I tried to be in denial yesterday about it but it didn’t go away.. Wishing you all a wonderful day (((pain-free internet hugs)))

What our members have said so far:

Diane – I’ve never had that personally, but I do have a problem with my jaw sticking and clicking! I have terrible trouble at the dentist getting my mouth open wide enough and terrible pain keeping it open lol

Kristen – My voice has gotten deeper over the last 14+ years. I always feel like my throat is swollen and the pain in my jaw sometimes is so bad I am unable to open my mouth let alone even eat.

Leslie – @diane.. i have the same thing.. dentist told me it is the TMJ.. its your joint …but not from ra

Niki – I know I’ve heard several chicks in past mention jaw surgeries due to RA I’ve been lucky that mine only flare up a little bit. I get a crunching crackle sound when opening jaw when it does.

Becky – Oh yes. When RA is flaring my throat gets really bad. Coughing, swollen, choking. It is sometimes the place that it flares the worst. I have allergies bad and it believe it keeps it irritated and causes real problems. I had no ideal that RA could do this but I got to watching and realized it goes with the flares most of the time.

Cheryl – I currently have Costochondritis, after a 3 week bout with an upper respiratory infection, I started having terrible pain. I was afraid I was getting Pneumonia until I talked to my friend who also has RA!!! She has also had this. The pain is almost too much to bear, but only if I try to move or cough!!! Has anybody else had this?

Rachael– That’s weird didn’t’ know that could happen. I have had a pop in my sternum that past two months or so? I have no idea if it is even related to Arthritis? I’m young and still learning, so it’s hard at times as to tell what is and what isn’t…@ diane I have same problem with my jaw for about a year now, its very annoying! My dentist thinks I’m a baby lol

Lourika – I had such a scare at lunch today. I just took about my first 2 or 3 bites, then it was as if I couldn’t swallow. I still don’t know if the food got stuck or what, but it hurt terribly. I couldn’t even swallow water it just came up back to my mouth and through my nose. I thought I was going to die. Except that I had trouble breathing I was in so much pain. My mom almost took me to ER. I was only better after everyone finished eating and cleaned up. It happened before that I struggled to swallow my food, but this was the first time it was this bad.

Karen – When I was first diagnosed I started sounding like Kathleen Turner. Later a rheumatologist told me that there actually is a small joint that is involved in making a person have a voice. It was one of the things that kept the doctors from figuring out what was really wrong with me. They kept treating me for throat and sinus infections and couldn’t figure out why I kept feeling worse and worse. I heard later too that Kathleen Turner also has RA and I’ve wondered if that is how she got her sexy sounding voice.

Marjo – I used to sing in a choir. My voice got deeper and deeper. And after singing my voice feels “tired”. Don’t know how to explain it differently. I had to stop singing and miss it very much.

Glenna – Sometimes I think my throat just gets tired, I too used to sing and now I croak lol

Elyse – I have R A in both my voice box and my inner ear. Rheumy and ENT worked together on this. It happened about 2009 when my R.A. got worse. No problems since but be aware you have 1 joint in voice box and 3 in your inner ear. With my meds under control i have been fine. Teachers typically have voice box trouble but this was somewhat different. So I was on no talking at all for 6 months! There is not much to do other than prednisone for about 6 months and a whiteboard and notebook. You lean to be quiet after that experience. And you dp not want it because it hurts to have the strobe and nose hose tests. Good luck!

Isabel – I have to have a drink of water before I eat, and drink along with food…but sometimes I still find it difficult to swallow.

Elyse – Oh, and no more singing for me. Classically trained but can’t risk it with R.A. in voicebox.

Lynne – I have had this for three weeks now…something new for me….I have the voice problem but not the pain in swallowing. By the end of the day I have little voice left. What types of meds do any of you take for this? I am already taking Methotrexate and Cimzia shots

Helen – First sign of a flare up for me is a sore throat. I’m also croaky like a smoker every morning.

Cheryl – I should also mention that Costochondritis is inflammation of the ribs….. Did I mention that this is very painful? And yes I have had problems with my voice, jaw and have been having real problems just lately swallowing my larger pills, calcium, multivitamins and omega 3. They just get stuck, I have been dreading taking them!

Rebecca – I have 3 or 4 nodules and 1 cyst in my Thyroid…Makes it too big, I think sometimes it “gets stuck” on something when I swallow

Danielle – I have three nodules around my thyroid that make it hard to swallow. It does hurt sometimes. I had a needle biopsy done and they were non cancerous but need to be removed I also didn’t have this till my RA. Age: 23

Beth – I cough way too much and nothing seems to relieve it

Karen – I have had what the Dr has been calling Vertigo for the last 3 or 4 years. I have extreme dizziness everyday that’s not responding to meds. I have a neurological appt. This month for this. Do you think this is RA? What are the symptoms of inner ear RA?

Toni – Lack of range of motion due to Arthur in my neck.

Toni – I also have nodules in my neck causing a goiter but it has nothing to do with Arthur.

Tracey – I can be croaky & hoarse til I’ve taught a couple of lessons. I try to stick to water til break & have honey instead of sugar occasionally. Doc ignored me when i mentioned throat problems & occasional dry eyes. Reassuring to read I’m not alone.

Melinda – My TMJ disease … is directly caused from RA… That’s what my Rheumatologist said

Melinda – The cartilage in your voice box can be affected by inflammation..just like everything else in our bodies

Mary – I have difficulty swallowing and chokes easily. Sometimes I really have to thank RA for these added extras. I eat slowly, and use a straw for liquids. I use thicker soups usually thickened with instant potatoes too.

Michelle – Yes this happens to especially when it’s meat or bread… I rarely go out to eat because of it

Andi – TMJ. I’ve had it since I was a teenager. RA goes hand in hand with it. I have been on maintenance meds for years – muscle relaxers and anti inflammatory. Anxiety triggers it. You can wear a mouth guard and a dentist can show you some exercises to relax the joint

Sondra – I never put the occasional sore, swollen throat down to the RA! Yes! This happens to me sometimes. I get a crackly voice, have difficulty swallowing, and get a sore throat almost like when I get a bad cold… but not quite. It’ll unpredictably go away in a few hours or a few days (like flares do for me). It just started this year, as did the jaw flares. Thanks Beth Tice, for sharing this on your page. I would have otherwise missed this one and not made the connection.

Sam – I get that clicking in my throat and have difficulty swallowing quite a lot. I suffered very badly with costochondritis in all three of my pregnancies, particularly the last one. I was diagnosed with PsA in September because of awful pain in my hands and feet but I wonder if the throat and rib issues were part of that too?

Karen – My voice gets ‘raspy/hoarse’ which I’m sure is related to RA. Also occasional trouble swallowing +i do eat slower now. @Karen – re: ‘dizziness’- Have u tried Meclazine? It’s OTC ‘travel/motion’ sickness med. Brand name is “Bonine”. Comes in 25 mg chewable tabs (purple) or same dose in yellow pills to swallow w/water. I keep these w me all the time esp helpful w nausea from other RA meds. I chew 1o r2 tabs + dizziness and/nausea is gone (btw- I buy CVS or store brand. Just make sure it’s -ingredient is ‘Meclazine 25 mg per tablet) Hope this is helpful :k:

Stacy – I have nodules on my vocal cords, but my rheumy says they are NOT from RA.

Jenny – I get a croaky/loss of voice which comes back once I have got going in the morning.

Beth – I used to love to sing also but with the way my voice sounds now especially in the mornings it is just not worth it unless I am alone.

Amber – Niki Wyre I’ve had problems, the biggest was with food. I would try to swallow and there was no response, which led to coughing/choking sometimes as the food would just sit part way down. I told my PCP about it, he did a scope of my throat and sent me to an ENT, who did a scope of his own and a barium swallow study. They weren’t sure what was causing it. Sometimes my throat feels tight, usually right at the larynx, and I will feel a popping or clicking when I swallow. As I said yesterday, I didn’t associate it with RA. I will have to bring it up to my rheumy when I see him next. — @Cheryl I’ve had costochondritis more than once. It could very well be due to RA, you have non mobile joints in your ribs, which can become inflamed, like any other joint. I was told to take anti inflammatories…but their suggested dose was lower than my regular dose, and had been taking it 4 x a day while it was happening. x] It hurt to breathe and move, there was a pressure, and nothing helped mine. =/ Or doctor I saw didn’t approach it well, maybe, if there IS something that helps.

Katie – Before my RA was under control I would get croup on a regular basis. Like every couple of months. I just had a flair up just recently and my throat is one of the first places that is affected. It is definitely part of RA but doesn’t effect everyone.

Kelly – YES!!! It does happen to me. I had to quit singing because of it. Until about noon my voice is very husky and I have to keep clearing my throat. Also can’t eat bread or crackers without a gallon if water. Get chocked a lot. Hope u fell better. Prayers and hugs

Jessica – I had these same symptoms along with HUGE glands under my neck. i was diagnosed with hashimoto’s.

Deseree – my voice gets real weak and sometimes I can just barely whisper.

Diane – I have a difficult time swallowing sometimes, it’s like food will get stuck down in my chest area

Cammie – Oh my I have dealt with so many of the same throat/jaw issues as others here. I never knew until RA Warrior posted about the throat having a joint that my throat issues could actually be from the RA. I like so many others here have issues with singing. I used to sing in my church music group, but voice was always getting tired. I couldn’t sing a song without having to cough through it, my voice seemed to get tired easily. Didn’t make sense at first, but now it totally does. My jaw often hurts too. Usually it is only one side at a time. Painful and I don’t talk or eat when this happens. It has helped me shed a few pounds though. Sucky way to lose weight.

Jo Lynn – Me too Dr. says it is acid reflux. I think I need to see an RA Dr. not just my primary.

Diane – those were classic first signs of sjogrens, I had those same symptoms for years and complained to my doctor about it before a rheumy diagnosed it

Rochelle – Yes me too and never occurred to me could be RA. Wow. Told I am at high risk for hashimotos and noddles on thyroid. And had surgery at c4 to c6 with titanium fusion….just thought I had an odd throat/neck

Cheryl – @Ambe, yes after my friend mentioned Costochondritis it made total sense, I have read about it on one of the RA sites before, this disease forces us to think outside of the box sometimes!!! My primary Dr. at first prescribed Prometazine w/Codeine to help quiet my cough. After about 4 days I stopped that because the pain was worse than the cough and while taking it, I could not take anything else for the pain, now am taking Lortab which is helping more, the pain is still there but I can handle it a little bit better now.

Jeni – My throat feels sore. Not raw sore, but like pulled muscle sore. It comes/goes just like a flare.

Linda – I too vote for Sjogren’s. It’s quite common with RA. There are meds to help produce saliva – evoxac & salagens(?). My 2nd vote is TMJ- not sure if it runs with RA but I have it too.

Lisa – I have had these exact symptoms come and go lately, I had no idea it could be related to my RA, thought it was a lingering virus or neck strain. How worried should I be?

Cheryl – @Diane Lee Jordan, yes I also have Sjogren’s as a secondary. I tend to blame everything on RA since that is my primary, sometimes I think I can only deal with one illness!!! I really do need to educate myself more on Sjogren’s!!! And yes I also have thyroid nodules for over 30 years and have had more ultrasound guided needle biopsies than I care to remember!!! I have 7 nodules that are calcified, so the needles were not fun.

Patrice – Yep, my voice gets so rough I sound like an old blue’s guy. lol Sometimes I lose it completely.Those times are rare.

Patricia – I have TMJ and often I feel as though whatever I swallowed last is stuck.

Sara – I’ve definitely developed acid reflux from the meds. Doc put me on tecta for the reflux. The symptoms were severe coughing. Once I started the meds, the symptoms poofed.

Beth – I feel like I am swallowing a lump sometimes. very annoying. and the acid reflux can be bad.

Beth – I get a sore, dry-feeling throat just before I have a bad flare. Kinda thought the two may be related.

Debbie – Have been hoarse going on six months. Have seen several different doctors, my left vocal cord is paralyzed but they do not think it has anything to do with ra. So exhausting to struggle to talk, but only at times, some days harder than others. We take our voices for granted. Thanks for the earlier posts on this subject, gave me information to talk to the doctors about.

Cammie – Forgot to mention that it also hurts to swallow. All this weekend I have struggling with this.

Amanda – I get inflammation in my salivary glands. It feels kinda like strep without the fever. Makes it difficult to swallow…then eventually I pass the salivary stones through the gland under my tongue. All from RA.

Jojo – Hello, this was my first symptom, was in my throat..for months I couldn’t seem to get my throat clear, like there was something there and it wouldn’t leave, i go around all the time clearing my throat but it doesn’t help but this is instinct so i do it all the time..annoying to say the least and sometimes it is really bad…i use nasocort and it has steroids in it and that does help….r.a. causes nodules on the voice cords, and my voice has changed as well….and yes my throat pops to, you prob have a nodule…you’ll have to go to Dr and let them do the light in the throat thing…they can be removed but it is a surgical thing of course…i am choosing to keep mine for now…i don’t need any other surgeries unless it is an emergency…good luck and try some nasocort or fluticisone…it helps a lot….and hot choc helps and hot lattes lol..really…

Stephanie – I have idiopathic sub-glottic stenosis and have had to have my trachea dilated 5 times since 2004. They are starting to wonder if there is a link with my RA. My airway basically, gets inflamed and I have trouble breathing. It is horrible.

Jojo – and Amanda those stones your calling are normal for obviously still have your tonsils or you prob would not be having these..they are called sinus scabs…nothing to worry about…other than they stink and come out at the worst time….don’t worry …and nothing i know of helps them go away….I’m not a Dr but i play one on TV lol…no i have these to and that s what Dr told me….

Stephanie – The mechanism that powers your voice contains cartilage and moving parts and therefore can be affected by RA. I’m in the middle of the worst bout of laryngitis I’ve ever had, but thanks to a sinus infection and bronchitis. I’m a music teacher and therefore have to be careful with my voice. I’m not a singer but I do sin quite a bit. Anyway, practicing good vocal health never hurt anyone. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dry the throat. Same for smoking, obviously. If you find you’re having trouble with chemical reactions (air fresheners and the like), try adding some lemon juice to water or tea and drinking it regularly. The acid gets rid of that stuff and increases saliva production. Don’t whisper or shout more than you absolutely have to. Both of these things put strain on the vocal folds (vocal cords). And if you keep having problems, see an ENT.

Stephanie – Oh….and stay hydrated! Singers use the phrase “pee clear sing clear!” Water like its going out of style.

Dianne – I have issues but know better than to talk to my rheumy about it. It is uncomfortable for me to sing and I have extremely dry throat and mouth. And weirdness with swallowing – sometimes it feels like my body has forgotten how to swallow for a minute, Also, music of any loudness hurts my ears after awhile. The added blessing of not being able to stand up for more than five minutes at time without pain and more pain later…..I have also had to drop out of two choirs. It stinks.

Michelle – The larynx has a small joint, for some of us this, like any other joint, can be involved in a flare. Mine has actually preceded flares; my voice starts cracking and I can’t talk for long stretches. Anything that involves tonsil swelling or gland swelling n the throat is related to infection. Dryness is not uncommon in this constellation of autoimmune diseases, mention it to the doctor.

Diana – My voice started getting raspy when my joint symptoms appeared 8 years ago. I dismissed it at first as part of RA but after a visit with an ENT doc I’m almost certain it’s connected. Plus I noticed when I was pregnant with my daughter and not on my meds my voice got much worse, but when I’m doing well and in remission my voice is better although not totally normal.

Jenny – I was dx with moderate-severe RA in 2008. This past summer I had a double-ear infection and viral. My cough hung on the most, lasted for months. My voice eventually remained raspy (called myself Marge Simpson lol) constantly, my voice would crack and s…See More

Deb – Throat problems and hoarse voice common with RA.

JasonandMegan – My voice gets raspy, like i have laryngitis…

Sue – All your comments are very interesting and answer a lot of questions. Anybody have problems with snoring?

Becky – OMG I am so glad I am not the only person with this issue. My throat has been clicking/popping for about 2 weeks now and nothing I do helps. When I touch the area and move it around I can feel the joint that’s doing it. I’m actually worried to find out what’s wrong and have been avoiding calling the doctor about it. I am about to flare, I can tell so I think its just part of the inflammation process.

Brooke – My voice has been effected for years! I had no idea it could be my RA. I used to have a very petite cute voice and now it’s deeper and raspy. It’s driven me crazy! Now I Know it could be my RA. I’ll have to ask my Rheumy. Thanks Arthur! Just one more thing

Kathleen – I thought I was crazy when this happened to me. I click and pop in all sorts of strange places.

Stephanie – I lost my voice permanently for 5 yrs and even now still lose it for a part of each day. (I’m the gal featured in RA Warriors series). I have permanent damage to the joint. Trouble swallowing and choking too.

Tandra – I’m not alone, dealing with a little of everything and wishing it all would just go away! My thoughts and Prayers to everyone

Trish – Yep I was diagnosed with sjogrens 3 yrs ago. If I talk for more than 15 min, my voice gets very hoarse. Many times I have lost my voice completely. Another fun thing, my mouth and throat get so dry, I cant form words. I keep a small hard candy in my mouth pretty much all of the time to keep my mouth and throat moist. My eyes are so dry that I developed blisters on my cornea that burst and caused scarring. I now have prescription drops that go in my eyes 6 times a day. My skin has become so dry that no amount or brand of moisturizer has helped. I hate Sjogrens but not as much as RAD!

Ruth – not my voice box per se, but my neck makes crackly noises like thick cellophane crumpled up when I turn my head or look up/down. not always but most times.

Carly – My voice will cut in and out for no apparent reason, it’s ridiculously hard to swallow sometimes and I choke when I’m breathing and eating too easily for my liking, plus my lymph nodes are swollen quite frequently.

Nancy – Thought it was just me!! Difficulty swallowing on left side

MaryColleen – Ugh every morning I cough up a hairball and there’s nothing there and on occasion, feel like I’m being choked. Not fun!

Amy – I’ve had voice/throat involvement for years. I will suddenly start coughing for no apparent reason. Often so bad that I actually start to see spots from coughing so hard. My mouth and throat often get to feeling dry My voice gets hoarse often. Sometimes I have trouble speaking…it’s like I have to force the words out. I have had some more frequent battles with trouble speaking so I talked to my Rheumy about a month ago. He confirmed that the RA can go after the bones/joints in your throat/voice box. Just one of the many ways this horrible disease attacks us.

Susie – I used to sing quite well…once I got RA, I sounded like a choir boy going through puberty…sometimes just fine, and in the middle of the song, my voice would crack and jump all over. One rheumatologist looked at me like I was crazy and said it couldn’t have been RA related. Another said that is wasn’t one of the most common manifestations of RA but it WAS related to RA….it hasn’t gotten worse or better in 26 years.

Annie – I have a severe sore throat every time I flare, hurts to swallow even water! Told the Rheum. about it but he didn’t seem to even acknowledge it oh well at first I thought it was just a coincidence but not anymore

Kelly – When I’ve overdone it and the major flare is coming on, my voice gets deeper and scratchy.

Maria – Ladies-choking or coughing at night or as you wake up indicates acid reflux. I always take a Prilosec before bed. I also have Sjogrens which is rearing its ugly head suddenly on my eye and throat. Biotene products help, but drinking water is better…my singing has been harder to hit those notes and my throat is dry.

Diane – Was on Prednisone since 2010, was choking & lost 30 pounds .

Zuleiga – This is quit interesting as i have experiencing this problem an couldn’t really figure it out! The swelling in the neck an through is the worst! Sometimes feels like I’m looking at someone else in the mirror

Lori – I was just diagnosed w/hyperparathyroidism by my rheumy , due 2 throat issues + it can affect your bones just like R.A. + cause O.A. also. I know that it is possible 2 get bone spurs in the throat as well that can affect talking + swallowing.

Kim – Ok this all makes so much sense. Diagnosed w RA in 2000. I am constantly clearing my throat, or I start choking for no reason and EVERYTHING is so loud my ears hurt. I’ve started wearing ear plugs to watch TV w my husband because if he turns the volume down to the point I’m comfortable, he can’t hear a thing. When I’m alone I barely have any volume on at all. Thanks to all of you. I’m not going to mention it to my rheumy because I think he’s bored with me. He doesn’t listen to me at all it seems and just says everything is part of RA.

Linda – I have a real problem with this. Sometimes I get so horse, I can’t talk. Dry & hurts. Lots of trouble swallowing food too. Danger of choking.

Missy – I haven’t had throat problems yet due to my RA but my neck & jaw are very affected & I have a really hard time sitting still for the dentist for a regular examination but she’s very patient with me & let’s me move my neck around a bit & open & close my jaw whenever I have to. When you can only open your mouth due to your jaw restriction – 2 finger widths it does make it difficult sometimes to eat certain food & other things…..

Megan – I’ve had a problem with swallowing for many years. In the past, RA used to make my face muscles really stiff–the muscles around my mouth. My problems with swallowing may be due to my thyroid gland, I’m not sure. My sister has the same problem and she has scleroderma. I have mixed connective tissue disease, and that’s known for causing swallowing problems as well.

Courtney – Voice sounds hoarse most of the time now and sometimes it will crack like Peter Brady’s. No problems swallowing yet.

Kimberly – Facial inflammation is usually after I’ve been flaring steady for a few days. When it progresses, I get jaw and throat at nearly the same time. Typically, that makes it difficult to get food into my mouth and also keeping it down because of choking hazards. Liquids are safer for me at this time. Pudding. The cacophony of clicks and rattles and pops are what really draw attention though. a one woman band…

Karen – I have that problem along with a strange choking that’s new. Never connected it with RA. I get severe jaw pain right in the joint itself that I thought was from RA but neuro told me it was something connected with my neuropathy but I don’t remember what its called

Jo – Diana as you know I have sjogrens also. I have been on restasis for my eyes for over ten years. It really helps. You also know my throat is always try and I sometimes can’t finish a sentence without getting a swallow of water before I choke. Recently I can hardly swallow and it is really painful so as you know I am having this checked out this week via a scope. I also have had reflux problems since I was a late teen over 30 years ago. I have been diagnosed with RA and then not as you know. The popping I have had for years and thought it was tmj. I just wanted to let you know that I think all the sjogrens, RA, reflux, or whatever causes it is all miserable and I pray for you and all of us that suffer these horrible symptoms every day.

Carol – That RA affects the throat is something I never realized until talking to people on this page! Now I know why, when my chakras are tested, why my throat chakra is always weak or closed. I love to sing but my vocal stamina is not very good, especially for some reason, with German Baroque composers! They wipe me out every time. I get laryngitis at the drop of a hat, and virtually every time I get a cold, the only way to preserve my voice is to go as silent as possible until the cold is over. I also get the “clicking” sometimes when I swallow. Due to lifelong RA my lower jaw is undersized, which has led to sleep apnea. Plus, when I go to the dentist, when I have to open really size so they can get to my back teeth, I literally cannot breathe, nor can I keep water from running down my throat. It’s annoying as hell.

Lisa – I’ve had hoarseness on and off since 2005. I lost my voice my entire pregnancy with my 2nd daughter. Since then it comes and goes. I started allergy shots and Acid Reflux medication since the doctors thought one of these was the culprit. The hoarseness has cleared up. But starting in July I had trouble eating. I went in for a scope and a throat dilation. Now here I am 5 months later back with the same eating issues. Food gets stuck in my throat and will not go down. Even water is slow going down. Going under for another scope this time. Hopefully they will have some answers.

Kaitlyn – I have to have my tonsils removed on Friday sue to my issues in this area and the arthritis.

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The above is a discussion created by a member and with member generated responses from our Facebook community ( put into a format so that the discussion can be archived for future answers needed by others in a searchable format while keeping member anonymity. Member provided information, statements and opinions do not reflect on or all individuals with Autoimmune Arthritis. We encourage all members to seek professional medical advice for any specific questions and concerns as this does not substitute competent medical care.

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