Five Possible Signs of Vocal Cord Nodules

Protrusions on the vocal cords are commonly known as vocal cord nodules. They're often confused with polyps, although they're different issues.
Five Possible Signs of Vocal Cord Nodules

Last update: 11 February, 2021

Their growth and development begin with inflammation until they harden and transform into callouses. Recognizing the symptoms of vocal nodules is crucial in order to detect and treat them as soon as possible.

So, let’s learn more about vocal cord nodules, their causes, most common symptoms, and other aspects of interest.

The causes of vocal cord nodules

A woman with a cough.

Some of the possible causes of throat nodules may be the following:

  • Imitating voices
  • Excessively clearing throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Forcing your voice (like singing in an unnatural key)

Essentially, anything that has to do with an excessive exertion of the vocal cords causes a gradual trauma. This leads to inflammation, and finally, vocal cord nodules.

Factors that might cause vocal cord nodules

In addition to the above, the following factors should be taken into account, because they can also influence the appearance of vocal cord nodules.

  • Allergies
  • Tobacco use
  • Insufficient amounts of air
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Excessively humid places
  • Occupations that require voice usage (teachers, broadcasters, singers)
  • Exposure to irritating gases or chemical products.

Common symptoms of vocal cord nodules

Although not all cases are the same, according to the experts of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, vocal cord nodules generally present themselves with the following symptoms, which we’ll discuss below.

1. Husky voice

The voice may sound a bit, or very, husky because of a reduction of the voice’s intensity. There’s mismanagement of air that runs out before the end of a sentence and gives off the sensation that the person doesn’t have enough air.

2. Voice fatigue

In the same vein, a person with vocal cord nodules, in addition to hoarseness, may frequently experience dryness in the pharynx and larynx, as well as throat clearing and vocal fatigue.

3. Neck muscle tension

A woman with vocal cord nodules.
There are a variety of things that cause tense muscles, ranging from dehydration, being overweight, bad posture, and sudden movements among other reasons. It’s a common problem that results from the blocked muscles of the affected area.

A person with vocal cord nodules can experience a lot of tension in his or her neck area, which can lead to headaches or other complications as a result.

4. Cough

You might feel a sensation of foreign objects lodged in your pharynx. This is because coughs can become painful. This is especially the case if they’re constant and the time lapses between them are very short.

5. Body and voice fatigue

When the body needs to exert itself, fatigue is inevitable. When the voice reaches phonetic exhaustion, symptoms appear.

Diagnosis

If you’ve been experiencing voice hoarseness for more than two or three weeks, you should see a doctor do a check-up and detect what is causing you discomfort and what is the most appropriate treatment.

In addition, the doctor may also request:

  • A neurological exam
  • An exam conducted by an otolaryngologist (a doctor that specializes in throat, nose, and ear medicine)
  • A voice exam conducted by a speech or language pathologist, or therapist
  • The doctor might also perform a laryngoscopy using an intermittent light in order to examine vocal cord movements

Treatment for vocal cord nodules

According to Dr. Clarence T. Sasaki, “treatment of vocal cord nodules, polyps and granulomas consists of avoiding whatever may be causing the laryngeal irritation and resting the voice.”

Pharmaceutical treatments

Some medication to relieve vocal cord nodules.

In some cases, patients need to undergo pharmaceutical treatments to reduce the impact on their vocal cords. Therefore, these treatments include gastroesophageal reflux, allergy, and thyroid treatments.

Vocal care

This kind of therapy consists of learning about appropriate oral hygiene, eliminating abuses of the vocal cords, using a healthy tone and volume, and breathing for good vocal production.

Other treatments

  • Complete vocal rest
  • When nodules are small or soft, they can be treated with anti-inflammatory steroids
  • Phonetic exercises for reestablishing the function of the vocal cords and to prevent nodules from appearing again
  • Surgical Intervention. This aims to remove the nodule from the vocal cord. Doctors resort to this treatment when the nodules are very big or if they’ve been present for a longer period of time.

How can you prevent vocal cord nodules?

The following tips will help you to prevent nodules on your vocal cords. Firstly, don’t abuse your voice. Secondly, if you’re a singer, teacher, broadcaster, etc., you have to make time to rest your voice.

In addition, you should consider acquiring new oral skills to be able to perform your job safely and with peace of mind.

Parents should make sure their children are learning to use proper voice techniques in order to avoid any kind of tension from an early age as it’s a problem that could develop.

In all cases, eliminate toxic habits as well as nasal and throat irritants.

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