Do you feel your voice consistently becoming raspy on a daily basis? Symptoms like hoarseness and a scratchy voice can be short-lived if they’re due to a respiratory illness, but voice nodules can also cause symptoms like these. Without treatment, they can last a lifetime. Many people often think vocal nodules affects entertainers like singers and actors. It can however, impact the average person who often screams or engages in other strenuous vocal tasks. Learning how to identify these symptoms can help your doctor diagnose the nodules at the earliest stage, while they are the most treatable.
What are voice nodules?
Voice nodules – which are also called vocal cord nodules or singer’s nodules or nodes – are non-cancerous growths that develop in the midpoint of the vocal cords. They’re small and hard and look like calluses when they’re examined under a microscope. They often occur due to overuse on the vocal cord.
What causes nodules, and are there any lifestyles or activities that can increase your risk of developing them?
These nodules are often caused by the following types of trauma:
- Singing (especially for professional singers)
- Excessive talking – such as that by a teacher
Voice nodules can also be caused by extra muscle tension created by one of the following:
- Sinusitis (sinus infections)
- Acid reflux
What are the symptoms of these nodules?
Symptoms can include the following:
- Low-pitched voice
- Breathy voice
- Rough or scratchy-sounding voice
- Less ability to change your pitch
- Neck pain or pain from ear to ear
- Feeling like there’s a lump in your throat
- Vocal tiredness
How are voice nodules treated?
Voice nodules can be treated in the following ways:
- Resting your voice
- Avoiding yelling
- Drinking plenty of water
- Training with a voice therapist
- Managing symptoms of reflux or allergies
- Quitting smoking
If these methods aren’t successful enough, surgery can be used to remove the nodules.
What is the long-term outlook if you develop voice nodules?
Voice nodules can last a lifetime if you don’t work to change what caused them. Even if they go away or are surgically removed, they can return if what caused them is allowed to continue. For example, reflux caused your nodules, they can return unless your reflux is treated. Generally, nodules caused by vocal abuse can disappear within 6 to 12 weeks with treatment by a voice therapist.
What are some ways to avoid developing voice nodules?
The following steps can help reduce your chances of developing nodules:
- Work with a therapist to learn how to talk or sing without straining your vocal cords
- See your doctor for treatment if you have acid reflux
- Eat smaller meals
- Don’t lie down shortly after eating
- Sleep with the head of your bed raised a few inches
- Use a microphone to help amplify your voice when appropriate
If you’re experiencing hoarseness or other symptoms of voice nodules, make an appointment today with New York ENT, located on Broadway, Park Avenue, and Central Park West. Our board-certified ENT doctors, otolaryngology physicians, and surgeons specialize in treating ear, nose, and throat conditions including voice nodules.