A nodule of the vocal cord is a benign, or non-cancerous, growth that grows on the vocal cord. It is often a result of overusing your voice or misusing your voice. A nodule on the vocal cord is similar to a callous that can also form within this part of the body. Nodules usually develop on both vocal cords at the same time.
Signs and Symptoms of a Vocal Cord Nodule
The earliest and most common sign of a vocal cord nodule is hoarseness of the voice. Many people complain of a voice that sounds rough or raspy. If you have a vocal cord nodule, you might also notice vocal fatigue or a sensation of strain or stress when you try to sing, talk for a while, or yell. You might also notice a breathy or scratchy voice or a voice that sounds rough when you speak.
Diagnosing Nodules of the Vocal Cord
An ear, nose and throat doctor can diagnose vocal cord nodules by performing a thorough examination of your throat. The examination might require a laryngoscopy or stroboscopy procedure. With a laryngoscopy procedure, the doctor places a small camera into your mouth or nose. This is done in order to see your vocal cord. With a stroboscopy procedure, a specialized light is set up on a timer to the vibration of your vocal cords in order to analyze them.
Treatment Options for Vocal Cord Nodules
In order to recover from vocal cord nodules, you may need to have voice therapy. A speech pathologist will teach you how to properly use your voice and how to avoid particular actions that may cause vocal cord nodules to develop. You may see positive results with voice therapy when it is combined with a period of rest for your voice. An appropriate rest period and voice therapy with the speech pathologist may be enough for the nodules to go away on their own. In some cases, the changes to your voice can linger even with rest and voice therapy. On occasion, surgery performed through the mouth is needed in order to remove vocal cord nodules.
Preventing Vocal Cord Nodules
You can take action to prevent nodules from developing on your vocal cords. One important preventive measure is avoiding extreme uses of your voice, such as excessive screaming or speaking loudly for long periods of time. You can also learn proper breathing techniques to avoid stressing your vocal cords. Knowing when to take a rest is also important to minimizing your risk of nodule development.
Although vocal cord nodules are commonly associated with singers, they can also develop in young children who tend to speak loudly. Nodules are also common in people who have a career as professional speakers or otherwise use their voices a lot, such as coaches. Not getting treatment could lead to considerable permanent damage of your vocal cords and the development of other throat problems.