Do You Have to Treat Vocal Nodules?
Have you noticed that your voice is hoarse or raspy? Do you have a lump in your throat feeling? You may have vocal nodules. Vocal nodules are small growths, similar to calluses, on the folds of tissue that create your vocal cords. Vocal nodules grow when you are overusing your voice, be it talking, yelling or singing too much. They can also be a symptom of allergies, reflux or smoking. When these growths form, they interfere with the way your vocal cords vibrate during breathing or speaking. Vocal nodules can even change the tone and volume of your voice! So, what to do about vocal nodules? Do you have to treat vocal nodules, or will they go away on their own?
The short answer is that yes, you do need to treat them. If you continue to overuse your vocal cords, the nodules will continue to grow. But there are several ways to treat vocal nodules, and most are minimally invasive and straightforward under the guidance of a doctor.
First, you should see an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. They will diagnose your vocal nodules through a physical examination of your neck and throat and a review of your lifestyle. The ENT doctor may also perform a laryngoscopy, in which a small camera is used to look in your throat.
Depending on the severity of your vocal nodules, your ENT doctor will create a treatment plan to help them shrink back down. Usually, this will include vocal rest. You will be asked to avoid speaking (as well as other vocal activities) for a period of time to give your vocal cords a chance to heal. Vocal nodules can also be treated by a speech language pathologist (SLP). An SLP can help you modify your vocal behavior and teach you to use your voice correctly when speaking a lot or speaking loudly, as well as when you sing and breathe. This will re-train you to use your vocal cords correctly so you can avoid misuse or overuse in the future. If your vocal nodules have an underlying medical cause (like a sinus infection or hypothyroidism), it is also important to seek out treatment for that from the appropriate doctor.
There are also simple treatments you can do at home in tandem with those prescribed by an ENT or SLP. Adding a humidifier to your bedroom, drinking water and managing stress can all help vocal nodules heal as well.
In extreme cases, vocal nodule treatment may include surgery. This is reserved for nodules that remain enlarged for an extended period of time or for nodules that are especially large and may not respond to other treatments. The good news is that vocal nodule surgery can usually be done as a quick outpatient procedure.
So, do you have to treat vocal nodules? Yes, you do. If you don’t treat them, they will continue to grow and disrupt your voice. Luckily, vocal nodule treatment is straightforward and can prevent nodules from growing in the future. If you are ready to take back your voice and get rid of your vocal nodules, call Biltmore ENT at (602) 956-1250 to schedule an appointment!