Vocal cord nodules represent benign growths of the vocal cords. There may be one or several nodules and they affect either one or both vocal cords. Vocal cord nodules even vary in size. Such growths become hard and thick over time and are responsible for changes in person's voice (the voice becomes hoarse, pitch or breathy).
Causes of Vocal Cord Nodules
There are many factors which contribute to development of vocal cord nodules. If there is more than one factor involved, the chance the vocal cord nodules will develop increases.
In majority of cases these benign growths develop as a result of misuse of the voice. One may not use correct voice pitch or volume, breath support can be inappropriate and sometimes while speaking certain people expose their neck muscles to extensive tension which can eventually lead to vocal cord nodules.
Abuse of the voice is another cause of vocal cord nodules. Shouting, strained vocalization and extremely loud speaking after certain period of time induce formation of vocal cord nodules. The condition may also affect patients who cough excessively.
And finally, vocal cord nodules develop in people suffering from chronic upper respiratory tract infections or allergies, due to some irritants (cigarettes, stomach acid) and may occur in patients with hormonal imbalance. Therapy for Vocal Cord Nodules
Basic treatment for vocal cord nodules is voice or speech therapy. It is also essential to identify and eliminate the underlying cause of the condition. In case nodules persist in spite of voice therapy, patients may require surgery.
The goal of voice therapy is to reduce, if not eliminate, the vocal abuse and teach people who misuse their voice to speak properly.
The treatment starts with evaluation of how the patient uses his/her voice. In some cases the patient is taught a new set of rules regarding usage of the voice. For example, it is necessary to limit screaming, yelling and shouting. It is also important to limit periods of singing. The patient is encouraged to replace abusive motor and animal sounds with less abusive ones. And finally, in case one uses his/her voice for longer period of time he/ she should always have sufficient vocal rest.
If the underlying cause has been eliminated and voice therapy failed to provide with desirable results, a person undergoes surgery. Surgery is most commonly performed in case of vocal polyps although it is also efficient in case of severe and persistent vocal cord nodules. Being an invasive treatment, surgery for vocal cord nodules is reserved only for small number of patients.