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What are Vocal Fold Nodules?

By: Jessica Bristol, Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech-language pathologists are uniquely qualified to assess and treat disorders of the larynx, or voice box, including those associated with vocal fold lesions. Vocal fold nodules are benign growths that form on the vocal folds with continued vocal misuse or abuse. Initially, the vocal folds swell in response to misuse. Eventually, the swollen areas become hardened, like a callous. These nodules can become larger and more stiff if vocal abuse continues. Nodules are usually identified by an otolaryngologist using an endoscope and additional diagnostic equipment. Vocal abuse can happen in many ways, including:

  • allergies

  • smoking

  • tense muscles

  • singing

  • coaching

  • cheerleading

  • talking loudly

  • drinking caffeine and alcohol, which dries out the throat and vocal folds

Vocal fold nodules can change the way a person's voice sounds. Commonly reported symptoms include:

  • hoarseness

  • breathiness

  • a "rough" voice

  • a "scratchy" voice

  • a harsh-sounding voice

  • shooting pain from ear to ear

  • globus sensation or a "lump in the throat"

  • neck pain

  • limited pitch range

  • voice and body tiredness

Some vocal fold nodules require surgery and/or additional medical management strategies, like treating reflux. Other cases respond well to voice therapy, as well as the implementation of behavioural management strategies recommended by a speech-language pathologist.

Please reach out to us if you need support with your voice!

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