Vocal Cord Nodule or Polyps: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Vocal cord nodule is a type of tissue growth that develops on the vocal cord folds. Because it’s situated on the vocal folds, it could change a person’s voice. A person with vocal cold nodules will struggle with speaking. He will need more vocal breaks and the vocal range is also reduced. On the other hand, vocal polyps or polypoid degeneration are larger tissue growths on the vocal folds.

A vocal cord nodule is similar to a callous while vocal polyps are more like blisters. The growth will appear as asymmetrical lumps on both vocal cords. The longer the vocal cord is strained, the larger the mass will become.

Causes of Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps

Vocal cord nodule is common among adult women as well as children of all ages and sexes. It’s caused by excessive use of the vocal cord. When the vocal cord is abused, bumps, callouses or blisters will develop in the folds. The bumps will turn into vocal polyps or vocal nodes over time.

Those who use their voice all the time are the most vulnerable to this condition. This is why public speakers, teachers, singers and actors develop vocal nodules. Coughing, screaming and yelling could also cause vocal bumps or callouses.

Apart from abusing the voice, the lack of vocal cord exercise also increases the risk of developing nodule or polyps. For instance, professional singers should always warm their voice 20 minutes before a performance. Singing tends to strain the vocal cords. The air forces itself in and out of the vocal cords, this stresses the vocal folds. Singing higher tones also causes the vocal cords to constrict, causing tissue damage.

Smoking is also a factor in developing vocal nodules and polyps. Cigarette smoke irritates the vocal cords, causing hoarseness. The larynx is sensitive to air pressure. It will become thick, red, inflamed and irritated after smoking. Smoking also causes the wall of the larynx to thicken, leading to strained vocal cords. Long term effects of cigarette smoking include altered speaking and singing voice. It also causes limited voice range.

Preventing and Treating Vocal polyps and Nodes

Drink More Water

Hydration is key to prevent vocal polyps and nodes. The vocal cord has to be hydrated to prevent straining when speaking. Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. Drink more if your job requires you to speak all the time.

Avoid Dairy Products

Certain types of foods could increase the risk or aggravate this condition. Avoid all types dairy when you’re about to use your voice. Compounds in dairy products cause excessive mucus production. This makes it hard to work the vocal cords. This tip works well for singers, public speakers or communications specialists.

Avoid Certain Medication

Some drugs cause the throat to dry out. Cold and flu medication may help reduce symptoms, but it could cause dryness to the vocal cords. If you got a cold, take the meds but be sure to drink more water than usual. This helps lubricate the vocal cords.

It pays to track your own condition. If you use your voice all the time and you are seeing changes in your voice, talk to a physician. It pays to check your condition to prevent the progression of the condition.


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