Vocal Fold Nodule Symptoms

Public speakers and singers may suffer from mild to severe benign vocal cord lesions.

HEALTH As they tighten and change position, vocal cords create sound by means of rapid changes in air pressure. Teachers, cheerleaders, politicians, actors, preachers and singers are persons most susceptible since they use their voices frequently in a loud setting. [1]

Although vocal cord nodules impair one's ability to speak and sing, rarely do they harm one's general health. The discomfort might be described as uncommon pain when talking or a "lump in the throat" feeling (globus).

Common Symptoms of Benign Vocal Cord Lesions [2]

  • Hoarseness
  • Vocal fatigue
  • Unreliable voice
  • Delayed voice initiation
  • Low, gravelly voice
  • Low pitch
  • Voice breaks in first
    passages of sentences
  • Airy or breathy voice
  • Inability to sing in high, soft voice
  • "Hiss" sound
  • Increased effort to speak or sing
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Extra force needed for loud voice
  • Voice "hard to find"
  • Shooting pain from ear to ear
  • Over time, repeated abuse of the vocal cords results in soft, swollen spots on each vocal cord. These spots develop into harder, callous-like growths called nodules. The nodules will become larger and stiffer the longer the vocal abuse continues. [3]

    Diagnosis

    A hoarse voice persisting more than 2 to 3 weeks should be followed up by a physician (preferably an otolaryngologist who specializes in voice) for a thorough voice evaluation. Vocal quality, pitch, loudness, ability to sustain voicing, and other characteristics are tested. [3]

    Treatment, or voice rehabilitation, usually involves vocal training, speech therapy or vocal rest. Vocal cord nodules are much like calluses that occur on overworked hands or feet. In rare cases, surgical removal of nodules is performed under anesthesia. Mayo Clinic doctors recommend one or more treatments for voice disorders: hygiene and hydration, medications, injections or surgery. [4]

    Differential

    People develop vocal disorders for reasons that range from psychological stress to vocal abuse or allergies. A laryngologist, otorhinolaryngologist or gastroenterologist may perform a mirror exam or use an illuminated flexible videoscope endoscope to examine and differentiate between benign vocal cord lesions (polyps) or more serious conditions such as recurrent respiratory or laryngeal papillomatosis and laryngeal cancer.

    Tags: definition, facts, pharyngitis, treatment options

    References
    1. Vocal cord nodule. Wikipedia
    2. Symptoms of Vocal Fold Nodules, Polyps and Cysts. VoiceProblem.org
    3. Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps. asha.org
    4. Voice Disorders. MayoClinic.org