Treat Strained Vocal Cords

Edited by Witz Taluban, Robbi, Ermin, Doug Collins and 5 others

Normal vocal cords

Strained vocal cords are quite uncomfortable. The common cause of strained vocal cords is abusing your voice - singing notes forcefully that you can't easily read, or screaming and yelling. If your work requires you to speak loudly, then you can be at risk of having strained vocal cords if you don't know how to do it properly. Teachers and public speakers are prone to these kinds of vocal issues. There are also other causes of strained vocal cords, which I will be tackling later in this article. There are also some treatments suggested here that you try yourself at home. To learn more, keep on reading this VisiHow article.

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Issues Regarding Strained Vocal Cords

What are Strained Vocal Cords?

Strained vocal cords can be caused by various things. Normally, strained vocal cords occur when you frequently shout with great force. Problems can also be caused by infections and other diseases, where trauma to the vocal cords is one of the symptoms.

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Types of Vocal Cord Disorders

Learn about common vocal disorders, and protect yourself from future harm.

  1. 1
    Laryngitis
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    Inflamed larnyx2.jpg
    This is an inflamed infection of the voice box, otherwise known as larynx. You can expect swelling of the vocal cords, which is quite painful and uncomfortable. Laryngitis occurs due to common colds and flu, acid reflux, allergies from smoke, and overuse of the voice. The symptoms include hoarseness, sore throat, trouble swallowing, coughing, dry throat, and often, the inability to even whisper. Laryngitis is a temporary condition, but some people seem to be prone to it.
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  2. 2
    Contact Ulcers
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    This is not a common vocal cord disorder. This only occurs when a person begins to use great force when speaking, instead of doing it gradually. It is not recommended to talk out loud initially. If you have to do so, you have to warm up your vocal cords before using your great force to shout or talk out loud. It can also be a result of acid reflux - gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and heartburn. Symptoms include hoarseness, pain and swelling in the throat while talking.
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  3. 3
    Vocal Cord Nodules
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    Teachers, singers, and screamers are at risk of getting vocal cord nodules. Nodules are small, hard lumps on both sides of the vocal cords. Because of these nodules, one cannot speak or talk comfortably. The nodules are very painful, and these should be treated early before they get worse. The common cause is due to vocal abuse. Symptoms include a low-pitched voice, uncomfortable feeling in the throat, trouble breathing, and hoarseness. Most people who have vocal cord nodules may not be aware they are losing their vocal range.
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  4. 4
    Vocal Cord Polyps
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    Vocal cord polyps tend to be larger than vocal cord nodules. These occur when a person is exposed to allergens, such as cigarette smoke and chemical fumes. And like other vocal cord disorders, vocal cord polyps are also caused by vocal abuse or overuse of the voice. Symptoms include raspy throat, hoarseness, trouble breathing, low-pitched voice, and throat irritation.
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  5. 5
    Vocal cord paresis and vocal cord paralysis
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    One sided paralysis - ermin.jpg
    Vocal cord paresis occurs if one or two vocal cords hardly close or open while talking, while vocal cord paralysis occurs when all sides of the vocal cords don't move at all or are stagnant. These can exist due to other diseases, such as having a tumor in the throat, neurological diseases (such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease), stroke, a viral infection, surgical trauma, trauma during birth, neck or head trauma, and some deteriorating diseases, like myasthenia gravis. Symptoms include change in the voice quality, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble increasing vocal sound, changes in voice pitch, and painful feeling in the throat.
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  6. 6
    Vocal cord tumors
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    These can be non-cancerous or cancerous. Non-cancerous vocal cord tumors are caused by a virus or an abnormal growth of body tissue, while cancerous vocal cord tumors are caused by excessive cigarette smoking and drinking alcohol. The latter can be life-threatening, if not recognized and medicated early.
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Treatments For Each Strained Vocal Cord Disorder

Now that you know the different afflictions of the vocal cords, keep reading to learn how to treat each specific one.

  1. 1
    Laryngitis
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    Modern medications and treatments can be used for treating laryngitis. Medications such as steroids and ibuprofen can reduce the pain in the throat. If it is chronic laryngitis, you should go see a doctor for medical care and diagnosis. If the uneasiness and pain is bearable, you can just self-medicate. Eating popsicles made from pure juices can reduce the swelling sensation in the throat. Apart from that, you should drink plenty of water to keep your vocal cords hydrated. A dry, raspy throat can worsen the issue. Doctors also recommend gargling with warm salt water to ease the pain, and resting your voice for few days. Also, you should expose yourself to humidified air to keep yourself hydrated. Adding honey and lemon to hot water also helps, and stay away from sugar.
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  2. 2
    Contact Ulcers
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    Like the treatment for laryngitis, contact ulcers can be treated with proper voice rest for a minimum of six weeks. Do not talk loudly and drink plenty of water. If this cannot be treated in a matter of weeks, and the symptoms gradually become worse, go see a doctor for throat check-ups or diagnosis. In some cases, if the vocal cords are seriously damaged and infected, doctors will suggest a surgical removal,
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  3. 3
    Vocal Cord Nodules
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    This also requires surgical removal, as the nodules will continue to grow and cause more damage to your vocal cords. Voice therapy is also required after surgical removal. The nodules can cause irritation because of the inflammation and infection. If, in the meantime, you cannot afford the surgical fees, you may want to do some treatments of your own to ease the pain and reduce the symptoms. Proper vocal hygiene and hydration are the main treatments to reduce the swelling sensation in the throat. Keep your throat hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Relax your vocal cords as well. Do not talk nor whisper frequently. Whispering can worsen the issue. Only talk if you need to.
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  4. 4
    Vocal Cord Polyps
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    This needs the same medical care as vocal cord nodules'. The lumps causes the symptoms and won't go away on their own - thus requiring surgery. Voice therapy is also needed after surgery. What you can do to help the situation, is hydrate your throat by drinking water, avoid overusing your voice and don't use your voice unless you have to for a few weeks. All these things will help ease the pain, and reduce the swelling.
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  5. 5
    Vocal Cord Paresis and Vocal Cord Paralysis
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    Surgery is required for fixing the vocal cord paresis. More often than not, the doctors will inject the paralyzed vocal cord with collagen or other fat substances to bring it closer to the other normal vocal cord. If both vocal cords are paralyzed, or what we call the vocal cord paralysis, a tracheotomy is needed. Tracheotomy is a medical operation in which an opening of the person's neck and trachea is needed to help a person breathe comfortably. After surgery, voice therapy is required. Just so you know, if both vocal cords are paralyzed, one may have trouble breathing and feel severe strain in the throat.
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  6. 6
    Vocal Cord Tumors
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    As we all know, vocal cord tumors can be cancerous and non-cancerous. Non-cancerous tumor in the vocal cord requires a surgical removal. The tumor or tumors, even if they are benign, should be removed to avoid the tumor or tumors from becoming cancerous. A cancerous tumor requires chemotherapy, radiation, or even surgery to remove a part of the larynx. In most cases, all these treatments may be needed to fix the affliction with the vocal cords. These treatments can be performed during the early stages of the vocal cord cancer. In the later stages of cancer, a laryngectomy is required. After the operation, the person should learn a new speech method through the special valve inserted between the esophagus and the trachea. Proper vocal cord hygiene is also required after surgery.
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Home Remedies For Strained Vocal Cords

Apart from surgical removal or conventional medical treatments, one can also try some home-remedies to treat strained vocal cords. Take note that you can use these remedies if you only have strained vocal cords because of vocal abuse. If your condition is severe, you need to follow the advice of a physician.

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  1. 1
    Water
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    Drinking plenty of water can reduce the uneasiness and swelling sensation of the vocal cords. This can also wash out bacteria in the throat. Choose room temperature water over cold. Don't put ice into the water.
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  2. 2
    Apple Cider Vinegar
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    Add a tsp. of apple cider vinegar to 4 ounces of water to treat strained vocal cords. Drink on glass an hour for seven consecutive hours during the day. Repeat the procedure after seven hours off the apple cider vinegar in water. Do not consume too much apple cider vinegar for it can cause adverse effects.
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  3. 3
    Honey
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    Honey has amazing benefits, including being an amazing substance that most bacteria cannot grow in. It can also treat strained vocal cords. To use honey as treatment for strained vocal cords, you just have to consume a tbsp. of honey every day. This will help soothe strained vocal cords. Or, you can add two tbsp. of honey, a squeeze of lemon, and one-tenth tsp. of cayenne pepper to a glass of hot water. Stir the ingredients and drink. This can clear away mucus in the throat and helps you speak comfortably.
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  4. 4
    Vegetables and Fruits
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    You can also make both vegetable and fruit salads, or a mixture of the two. These are full of nutrients that can help you treat strained vocal cords. Avoid dairy products and sweet foods, because these can cause more mucus buildup in the throat.
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  5. 5
    Onion Syrup
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    Gargling onion syrup can also treat strained vocal cords. To make your own onion syrup, you just have to chop bulbs of onion and place them all into a pan. Fill the pan with water, and make sure that the water is enough to cover the onions. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until it looks thick and gooey. Strain the liquid into a clean jar, and then add 6 tablespoons of warm water. You can add some fresh squeezed lemon juice to it and serve.
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Tips

  • Home remedies and self-medications can be utilized to ease the strained vocal cords. However, one cannot really determine the real cause of the painful sensation of the vocal cords. To know the possible cause and the right treatment for the strained vocal cords, you should go see a doctor for diagnosis. If the strained vocal cords are not severe, then you may want to do some home-remedies and self-medications to treat it.
  • Home remedies are not a substitute for proper medical care from a professional.
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Questions and Answers

Hi Daniel. I've been a singer for 25 years now. I have a pretty good vocal range. I'm 69 years old, and have lately experienced strain when singing pieces with more than 3 versus and refrains?

I'm thinking about doing a vocal solo of the Holy City on Easter, but I'm afraid of "running out of voice" in the middle of the solo. Are there exercises I can do to strengthen my vocal chords?

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Categories : Voice Lessons & Tips

Recent edits by: Sheri, Inukshuk, Nuance

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