Some people tend to develop small growths on their vocal cords, and these are referred to as nodules. In this article, we’ll discuss the causes and symptoms of this disorder.
A nodule is a Latin term, and it means ‘knots’. Nodules are a cluster of a lump or mass of tissues that develop on or under the skin, and can even appear on the inside of the body. There are different types of nodules, namely rheumatoid nodules and thyroid nodules. These are usually painless and harmless, but could potentially affect the functioning of the affected organ, such as in case of nodules on the vocal cords, wherein they impede the vocal folds and prevent them from making quick changes in the air pressure that results in speech.
They are also referred to vocal fold nodules, as they are typically found between the joining of the start and two-thirds of the middle portion of the vocal fold. Other common names also include singer’s nodule, screamer’s nodule, and teacher’s nodule. As far as their appearance is concerned, they are mostly like calluses and different to polyps which appear more to be like blisters. Nodules appear as small swellings on the sides of the vocal cords.
Nodules on the vocal cords are basically due to any form of vocal cord abuse or misuse. They do have a chance of leading to laryngitis. Vocal cord abuse and misuse could happen in a variety of ways, and some of the activities include:
- Talking loudly
- Tense muscles
- Cheer leading
- Dryness of vocal cords
- Caffeine and alcohol intake
This condition is mostly found in women, and children of both genders. Some of the signs include:
- Rough and scratchy voice
- Senses lump in the throat
- Harshness in speech
- Fatigue (body and voice)
- Painful when generating speech
- Low pitch range
- Vocal breaks
- Severe ear pain
- Neck pain
Diagnosis and Treatment
First of all, if any of the symptoms are seen, for example, experiencing hoarse voice for more than a couple of weeks, the individual should visit a physician as soon as possible. A thorough voice evaluation might be recommended to diagnose this condition. You are most likely to be recommended to an otolaryngologist or in simple terms, a ear, nose, and throat expert. After the physical examination, another voice evaluation would be conducted by a SLP or Speech Language Pathologist, followed by a neurological examination, in certain cases. The idea is to check and rate the voice quality, loudness, pitch, and other characteristics of normal voice and speech.
Only in rare cases, removal of nodules require a surgical treatment, and a fairly minor surgery is performed. In most cases, it can be treated with the help of voice rehabilitation, that involves speech therapy exercises, vocal rest, and vocal training. The condition might seem unpleasant, but is certainly curable. Having said that, it is not as chronic as many might think.