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Vocal cord nodules are noncancerous growths on both vocal cords. Repeated abuse of the vocal cords results in soft, swollen spots on each vocal cord. The spots develop into hard, callous-like growths called vocal cord nodules. They usually decrease in size or disappear when misuse of the voice is stopped.
Vocal cord polyps are sometimes caused by vocal abuse. Polyps appear on either one or both of the vocal cords and can occur in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The easiest way to picture the difference between vocal cord nodules and polyps are size and quality. Nodules are smaller than most polyps. Polyps are more blister-like, and nodules are more callus-like.
If you have experienced a hoarse voice for more than 3 weeks, you should see an otolaryngologist.
Symptoms of Vocal Cord Nodules & Polyps
Vocal cord nodules and polyps have the same symptoms. Symptoms of vocal cord lesions can include vocal fatigue, hoarseness, a scratchy voice, and shooting pain from ear to ear.
Your voice may have a harsh-sounding quality, and speaking may feel like having a lump in your throat. Symptoms may also include voice and body tiredness, a decreased ability to change your pitch, and neck pain.
Causes of Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps
Vocal cord nodules and polyps are usually caused by chronic vocal abuse or misuse. They can be acquired after even a single instance of this, like yelling at a music festival.
Vocal abuse can happen due to allergies, smoking, tense muscles, singing, coaching, cheerleading, or by simply talking loudly.
Drinking caffeine and alcohol also dries out the throat and vocal folds, which makes them more prone to vocal cord lesions.
Diagnosing Vocal Cord Nodules and Polyps
If you experience hoarseness, pain in the throat, or other symptoms of vocal cord nodules or polyps for more than three weeks, see an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Vocal cord nodules and polyps can be tested through laryngoscopy and stroboscopy. There are many types of laryngoscopies, and rigid laryngoscopy is often used for an optimal and magnified view of the vocal fold surface. This allows specialists to detect most surface lesions.
Stroboscopy is used for assessing the mucosal wave, or movement of the vocal fold during vibrations or creation of sound. This test can observe irregularities like lesions in the vocal folds by observing the source of sound.
The correct diagnosis for vocal cord nodules and polyps is crucial for selecting a treatment. Treatment options for vocal cord lesions can vary from speech language therapy to dietary modifications to surgery. To determine the best treatment option, our specialists at ENT Associates of San Diego can give you an accurate and comfortable diagnosis.
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Interested in treatment options for vocal cord nodules and polyps in San Diego? Contact ENT Associates of San Diego and schedule a consultation today.