Vocal cord nodules

Specialty of Speech therapy

What are vocal cord nodules?

Vocal cord nodules are the growth of small lumps or bulges by the vocal cords. When these nodules appear, they affect the glottic closure of the vocal cords and cause a tone of voice change which normally sounds ‘broken’, and more intense.

Prognosis

Vocal cord nodules don’t tend to cause issues as they respond well to treatment, whether it is speech re-education or surgery.  

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms tend to include:  

  • Hoarseness
  • Rough and rugged voice
  • Pain in the neck
  • Feeling that something is in your throat
  • Voice and body fatigue.  

Medical tests

If hoarseness becomes chronic, a specialist should be seen. The otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) will carry out tests looking at the ears, nose, and throat and the phoniatrist or speech therapist will check the voice and may also carry out a neurological examination to rule out certain conditions.  
 
The aim of these tests is to assess the tone, volume, timbre, and ability to maintain voice production. One of the tests carried out may include inserting an endoscope through the nose or mouth to be able to examine the vocal cords and larynx.

What causes it?

When a sound is made, the vocal cords collide with each other. When the sounds is abrupt and continuous it can cause the edges to swell until nodules are formed. Some reasons this condition develops include:

  • Shouting or regularly raising your voice
  • Frequently clearing your voice
  • Excessive vocal cord exercises.

How can it be prevented?

There are different techniques that can help prevent vocal cord nodules. These include speech re-education or singing techniques.

What is the treatment?

This type of dysphonia tends to affect people who excessively and forcefully use their voice. Treatment involves a vocal rest and rehabilitation with a speech therapist to re-educate voice use and prevent larynx and vocal cord complications from arising. In severe cases, surgery may be resorted to, this involves removing the nodule from the vocal cord. This happens when nodules are very large and have been in the throat a long time.

What specialist should I see?  

A speech therapist typically treats vocal cord nodules. The otolaryngologist (ENT doctor) will carry out the physical tests for an accurate diagnosis.

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