Voice disorders occur when the quality, pitch, tone or volume of someone’s voice is abnormal or inappropriate for their age, gender, cultural background or geographic location. In other words, a voice disorder occurs when someone’s voice doesn’t meet their daily needs. It is often the case there is a medical condition causing the voice problems. Below are two of the most common voice disorders.
Vocal Fold Nodes
Vocal cord nodes are calluses on the vocal cords, usually the result of some form of trauma like overuse. Other factors that can contribute to vocal cord nodes are poor vocal hygiene like excessive voice use during a respiratory infection or chronic coughing/throat clearing.
There are two types of vocal cord nodes: soft (early) and hard (late). To illustrate this, think of the calluses that build up on the hands. Soft nodes are like the light calluses that someone who does not usually do manual labor gets after a weekend of yard work. Hard nodes are like the calluses of someone who has performed a manual labor job for many years. On the vocal cords, soft nodes are confined to just the surface while hard nodes thicken and stiffen, interfering with vocal cord vibration.
The first line of defense against vocal fold nodes is to avoid using the voice until the vocal folds have healed. Speech/voice therapy may be recommended if there is an ongoing problem with vocal hygiene. Rarely, surgery may be necessary for advanced vocal cord nodes.
Vocal Fold Polyps
Vocal cord polyps are fleshier than nodules and may occur on just one fold rather than bilaterally. They are also caused by trauma or irritation, usually from tobacco smoke, alcohol or gastroesophageal reflux. When the entire vocal cords swell and become filled with polyps, the condition is called Reinke’s edema.
It is important to address the underlying irritating condition causing vocal fold polyps. A small polyp may be remedied with voice therapy, but multiple polyps may need to be removed via surgical excision. For more information about voice disorders or to schedule an appointment to be evaluated by an ENT physician, call the experts at ENT of Georgia today.