Get rid of vocal cord nodules

Edited by Ian Gabriel T. Tolledo, Lynn, Robbi, Ermin and 28 others

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Vocal cord nodules are small blisters that grow on the vocal cords when they rub against each other too much. Everyone can get this, whether you are a singer, speaker, professor, or just plain old Bill who talks too much. This article will discuss the ways to get rid of vocal cord nodules.

Instructions

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    Deeply gargle warm salt water
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    (Not seawater of course.) Simply mix half a teaspoon of table salt in a glass of warm water, stir thoroughly and gargle for three minutes and then spit. You can swallow just a bit of the water so it coats the inside of your throat. The idea is to coat your vocal cords with warm salt water. Avoid just drinking all that salt water, especially if you are on a low sodium diet for high blood pressure. You may notice that the pain in your throat has significantly decreased. Do this for a maximum of three times a day.
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  2. 2
    Rest your voice
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    Speak only when necessary, and remember that most cases of vocal cord nodules happen because of vocal abuse. Rest your voice at least once a day. If speaking hurts too bad, you can just carry a paper and pen so you can still communicate with people around you. Let them know why you're doing it though, because you don't want to look weird.
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  3. 3
    Good voicing
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    If you're throat problem is not very serious, you can just practice altering your pitch, loudness and breath support. For example, If you speak in a high or loud voice, it will do you good to refrain from speaking in high notes or talking too loud.
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Seeking professional advice

Beware! Vocal cord nodules, if left untreated or ignored for a long time, can cause permanent loss of voice. While mild irritation of throat is normal from time to time due to use, extremely painful throat is not. It will do you good to visit an ENT (Ear-Nose-Throat Doctor) and have yourself checked. Below are the steps you may take when visiting a doctor.

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    Initial screening
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    Your doctor will examine your throat to view the present situation of the nodules.
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  2. 2
    Queries
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    You will be asked several questions regarding your recent affairs and present lifestyle. This can point out the reason you have the nodules in the first place.
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  3. 3
    Medication/Advice
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    Depending on the severity of your case, your doctor can either prescribe medication for you or advise you on how to locally treat your throat nodules. He or she may also point out things which you should do or not do to prevent any further recurrence in the future.
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  4. 4
    Occasionally, surgery may be advised by your doctor, while most cases of vocal cord nodules go away on their own with rest and therapy
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    Sometimes, these same nodules can be so well-developed, which is usually caused by continued voice abuse and disregard for the situation. When this happens, there is no amount of voice therapy can heal the voice. There are two surgeries which can be performed by a surgeon to treat the nodules and ease the pain.  
    1. Phonosurgery (voice surgery) - This is the careful removal or incision in a vocal cord, the surgeon will remove the growth or lesion from the vocal cord while at the same time preserving the normal parts of the vocal cord right next to the affected area. This surgery is to restore and save the natural sound and vibration of the vocal cords. During the procedure, the doctor will either sedate you or simply numb the area, depending on your current state.
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    2. Microlaryngoscopy - This is considered the most precise means in operating on the vocal folds, as it also allows the use of two essential and up to-date apparatuses in voice surgery, which are the microscope and microscopic instruments. This surgery is done through a laryngoscope, so a tool is inserted via the mouth without making any skin incisions. Microlaryngoscopy requires the use of general anesthesia, however the patients usually can go home the same day after the procedure. Pain in the surgery is not severe and only takes approximately one hour. Complications can include temporary tingling or numbness of the tongue (caused by the anesthesia).
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Possible side-effects

During the operation, a scar can develop on the vocal fold. The probability of a scar greatly varies from every operation, but if there is one, it is generally small in surgeries for benign nodules and lesions. You should discuss the risk of a scar with your doctor, as well as steps to take to prevent scars. Most laryngocologists believe that quitting smoking, control of acid reflux and not using your voice just after your surgery are helpful.

Signs of vocal cord nodules

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  1. 1
    Hoarseness and a rough voice.
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  2. 2
    Harshness and scratchy voice.
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  3. 3
    Breathlessness.
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  4. 4
    A "lump" in the throat.
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  5. 5
    Neck pain and decreased pitch range.
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  6. 6
    Voice and body fatigue.
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What causes these nodules?

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    Vocal abuse (shouting for a long time).
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  2. 2
    Continuous coughing that can irritate the throat.
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  3. 3
    Bacteria from food/drinks.
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  4. 4
    Allergies or smoking.
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  5. 5
    Tense muscles.
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    Too much caffeine and alcohol consumption (it dries your throat).
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  7. 7
    And of course...singing.
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How to prevent vocal cord nodules

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    Stop vocal abuse
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    Most people develop vocal cord nodules because they don't know how to take care how they use their voice. Thus, the first step in getting rid of nodules is to stop abusing your vocal cords when using your voice. Rather than shouting, go near the person you are talking to (if possible) or ask someone to relay what you want to say. This way you are decreasing the chance of irritation your throat.
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  2. 2
    Stop smoking
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    Yes, smoking contributes to the development of vocal cord nodules. When you smoke, tar and other dangerous chemicals pass through your throat, which can greatly irritate the muscles in the area, thus causing blisters and nodules.
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  3. 3
    Allergens
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    Exposure to too many allergens (eg. pollen, dust, mites, etc.) can trigger allergy, which may cause sore throat that can lead to nodules. As an extra precaution, use a mask. Better safe than sorry, right?
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Questions and Answers

Is it possible to have a permanent loss of voice after vocal fold nodule surgery?

Unfortunately, yes, it is possible to have a permanent loss of voice after vocal fold nodule surgery, if you do not follow the medical advice given by your doctor. After the surgical removal, you are required to rest for several weeks. This means no talking, humming, throat clearing, laughing, lifting moderate to heavy weight lifting objects, crying, whistling, singing, groaning, holding your breath, and/or whispering. If you try to do these things, your vocal cords will likely come in contact with each other, which will make the condition worse. It can cause further injury, which may result in delayed recovery or worse, loss of voice. The vocal cords are very sensitive after the surgery. This should be taken into consideration you should carefully heed the advice given to you by your speech therapist and your doctor.

You do not want to delay your recovery, do you? If you do not want this to happen, then you should drink plenty of water after the surgery - 64 ounces per day. If you have to say something, write it on a piece of paper or communicate through any other means, as long as you are not using your voice. Coffee, alcohol, ibuprofen and aspirin, smoking or secondhand smoke, and strong chemical fumes should be avoided in order to recover quickly and get rid of possible infection in the vocal cords.

What happens if you ignore vocal cord nodules?

If you ignore vocal cord nodules, you will feel pain in your throat. If you keep talking, humming, whispering, whistling, or doing other things that will make the vocal cords move, the nodules will come into contact with each other. If this happens, the vocal cords will be injured. In addition to the injury of the vocal cords, you will not be able to speak well, and if you do, you will feel discomfort and pain. You also need to be careful about eating because of your strained vocal cords. You cannot drink coffee or alcohol, or smoke cigarettes. The nodules should be treated medically, possibly even surgically, so that they won't get even worse.

Does gargling with salt water for vocal cord nodules actually work?

Gargling with salt water cannot treat vocal cord nodules. However, it can soothe the symptoms brought by the nodules. Some people can feel the efficacy of gargling with salt water, and some cannot. There are no scientific studies that gargling with salt water is bad for the health, so if you think gargling with salt water can ease the pain you are having, then go for it. You should always see your doctor for medical checkups to know if your nodules have become severe. If they are, gargling with salt water cannot help you treat it. Surgical removal is required for severe vocal cord nodules. If your vocal cord nodules are not chronic, then you are only required to take some medications. Herbal medications including gargling with salt water can help reduce the symptoms you are experiencing.

Can vocal nodules go away on their own?

Vocal cord nodules are small lumps that grow in vocal cords, which are responsible for vocal issues. These nodules will just go away on their own, if you rest your voice and avoid overusing it. As long as you know how to take care of your voice, you will have no more vocal problems. However, they will return if you do not heed some helpful advice from a voice care professional. If you feel like you have vocal cord issues, then do not try to force yourself to sing or shout out loud. This will just make the situation worse. Rest your voice for few weeks and you will just be fine.

See more questions like this: How long does it take for vocal nodules to go away

How to get rid of vocal nodules naturally?

As we all know now, vocal cord nodules occur due to vocal misuse and overuse. You can avoid the development of vocal cord nodules naturally by learning to sing properly and changing the way you sing. You may want to attend some singing lessons with a professional singer and teacher, in order for you to sing correctly and avoid vocal cord problems in the future. Homeopathic and herbal remedies can also help dissolve vocal cord nodules. In addition, vocal rest is definitely a helpful remedy for vocal cord nodules. However, for large vocal cord nodules, surgical removal is advised.

See more questions like this: Foods to eat to get rid of vocal cord nodules

How long does it take for vocal nodules to go away?

The vocal nodules may or may not go away. According to a research entitled: treatment of Vocal Nodules by Mary Panbacker, published in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology of August 1999, vocal nodules' frequency and re-occurrence depends on the following factors:

  • Your age during the time that you decided to seek medical advice and treatment
  • The length of time the nodules have been ignored without medical intervention
  • Difficulty in speaking scale
  • Your choice of treatment, whether voice therapy or surgery

With proper compliance to medical recommendations, your doctor is in a better position to approximate the duration and prognosis of treatment.

How to remove tar from vocal cords?

Smoking is one vice that seems to not have any necessary benefit attached to it but still remains to be extremely addictive. Some people think that lifestyle and work demands incredulously becomes too stressful and is somehow dissipated by smoking; while others think that it's a way to be accepted in a social circle. Both passive and active smoking exposes an individual to different harmful and carcinogenic toxins such as nicotine, ammonia, benzene, and tar; to name a few. These hazardous chemicals significantly increases a person's chances of developing wide range of life-threatening diseases such as throat cancer, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer; among others.

Tar formation on the vocal cords or folds causes sudden changes in the voice. Hoarseness of the voice and persistent coughing(popularly coined as "smoker's cough")are particularly observed in smoking individuals. Tar coating can precipitate edema or swelling in the vocal cords which weigh it down thus causing vocal changes.In fact, some singers who smoke attribute their raspy and deep voices to habitual smoking; which should not be counted in as an advantage because vocal changes can actually be a tell-tale sign of an otherwise serious condition such as throat cancer.

Here are effective treatment options for removing tar from your vocal cords:

  • Salt Therapy -
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    This is a non-invasive alternative treatment which makes use of salt for regular breathing to flush out harmful toxins in the body such as tar in the vocal cords. The treatments are done in specialized spas. Salt is dubbed to be a powerful antiseptic that can effectively boost the immune system while eradicating harmful agents and bacteria. This effectively drains the mucus buildup and rid the vocal cords of irritants or tar that cause vocal cords nodules. This has a pronounced high success or efficacy rate than most other treatments.
  • Diet Modification -
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    Fill your plate with fiber-rich food such as fruits and vegetables. The vibrant the colors are - the better for your health; so-to-speak. This provides essential nutrients and vitamins that can strengthen the body's defense as well as remove tar buildup or harmful components in the body. You can try out exciting recipes to make healthy meals and desserts for the whole family.
  • Water Therapy -
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    Drink more water or up to the required 8 glasses per day requirement to ensure that your are properly nourished and hydrated to go about with daily activities. Water is essential for total body functioning and to rid the system of harmful chemicals such as tar.

How long does it take for a surgeon to remove vocal cord nodules?

Patients suffering from vocal cord nodules or polyps that do not seem to improve with noninvasive or alternative treatments and are proving to be a burden to daily routine should readily opt for a microscopic laryngeal surgery. This type of surgery is also popularly referred to as microscopic voice surgery and is routinely performed under general anesthesia. This works as a corrective surgery for varied voice conditions affecting smokers and those who actively use or misuse their voice box on a regular basis such as singers, actors, teachers, news anchors, TV show hosts, lawyers; and the like.

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This minimally invasive treatment is done with precision using top-of-the-line tiny surgical tools and a laryngoscope which ensures that only the affected region is cut off and the rest is left completely intact and unscathed. Also, this is an outpatient procedure which can be done in a matter of hours depending on the severity of condition. You will be observed for a few hours and then you can go home at the very same day of surgery. Minimal complications or side-effects are noted such as pain which is but normal and can be relieved by any type of pain medication such as ibuprofen. You will notice some difficulty in speaking for a few days or weeks. It is however recommended to undergo voice rehabilitation or to refrain from speaking too much for a few weeks to allow your inflamed vocal cords to heal entirely. After a few months, your physician can now advise you to resume normal speaking routine depending on the postoperative checkup results and your recovery rate.

Diets that help get rid of vocal nodules?

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Having the "Screamer's nodes" or vocal nodules can affect daily communication, lifestyle, and work especially if you belong in an industry that capitalizes on your vocal strings such as singers, voice talents, educators; and the like. These are the individuals who are most at risk of contracting vocal cord nodules which can be painful, uncomfortable, and affects overall voice range and quality. Eating a well-balanced and appropriate kind of food and beverages can help you manage and get rid of vocal cord nodules while maintaining a healthy physique. Here are some food groups that you should include on your daily menu plan:

  • Whole Grain Diet - Every table needs daily servings of whole grain meals such as oatmeal, cereals, bread, brown rice, whole grain crackers, popcorn, and whole grain wheat; to name some. This can be consumed everyday in generous proportions as it is known to be low in cholesterol and high in carbohydrates and fiber content needed for proper body nourishment without the harmful fat content that can aggravate vocal cord nodules.
  • Fruits and Vegetables Diet - Dig into variety of fruits and vegetables and get the fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as water that you need for detoxification and hydration needed to treat vocal cord nodules. Indulge in myriad of fruits and veggies such as apples, oranges, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage; and the like to rake in all the health benefits you need. This is one type of diet that you can never get enough of.
  • Lots of Water. Proper hydration is highly vital and critical towards successfully getting rid of vocal cord nodules as it provides the lubrication that is essential to healthy vocal cords and throat; in general. Steer clear of too much caffeinated or carbonated beverages such as soda and coffee which can actually cause dehydration. You can check if you are drinking enough water when you see that your urine is pure and clear. Drink at least eight glasses of water everyday but be careful not to consume too much water at very close intervals as this can be dangerous as well.

Here are some food choices that you should avoid if you have vocal cord nodules:

  • Spicy Meals - Avoid consuming hot and spicy foods (no matter how deliciously tempting it is) as this can cause acid reflux which can exacerbate vocal cord nodules and harm the throat and esophagus.
  • Dairy Products - Reduce consumption of dairy products such as cheese and milk which precipitates mucus production that can irritate the lining of the vocal cords.
  • Caffeine and Carbonated Drinks. Instead of getting that cup of coffee or a can of your favorite soda, you can opt for decaffeinated beverages such as tea with honey. This is a healthier option as compared to drinks that you can readily purchase on the go. But, you can consume sparingly or in moderation. Diuretics can dry out the vocal cord area and aggravate its condition.

How to hide symptoms of vocal nodules?

Unfortunately,there is no way to hide or mask the overt symptoms of vocal cord nodules basically because it's there. The best way to prevent or treat any form of disease is by seeking medical help and not by ignoring, hiding, or pretending that you don't have it. However, there are effective ways to minimize or reduce the symptoms of having vocal cord nodules such as the following:

  • Treating the possible trigger factors of the symptoms. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which might worsen the condition of your vocal cord nodules and associated symptoms such as hoarseness of voice, pain,and inflammation on the vocal cords; then getting medical treatment for each of these specific conditions should bring about improvement of symptoms.
  • Voice Therapy. The most obvious symptom of having vocal cord nodules is sudden change in voice quality or vocal range. Voice misuse or abuse is coined to be the primary culprit for hoarseness of voice which can be remedied by voice therapy or rehabilitation. This includes refraining from too much talking as it can be hard on the voice nodules. This is said to diminish swelling and irritation on the vocal cords.
  • Behavioral Therapy. Counseling or coaching is also recommended for patients with vocal cord nodules as some symptoms could be aggravated by stress and other psychological factors. This also motivates an individual to work on his strengths and rise above challenges associated with suffering from vocal cord nodules.

How does ibuprofen help vocal nodules? #17

Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can be used to relieve the pain and swelling of vocal cords, but should be taken in moderation because they may cause some bleeding and lead to platelet dysfunction. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is also recommended for pain relief.

Natural ways to get rid of vocal nodules?

One of the most natural way to get rid of vocal nodules is to learn how to use your voice properly, especially when you are just learning how to sing. When you have vocal nodules, you should use your voice only when needed. You should definitely avoid making extreme sounds like shouting or whispering. It is best that you use your normal speaking pace and tone, if at all. Getting enough rest is also helpful. As you may have noticed, the voice will often get hoarse when you go to bed late, even if you have not really talked that much. That is why singers often try to get enough sleep and go to bed as early as possible. It is also important to keep your vocal cords moisturized by drinking lukewarm water.

Does rest really help vocal cord nodules?

Yes, enough rest can help avoid or get rid of vocal nodules. Professional singers preserve their voice by getting as much rest and sleep as they can. When you feel strain or hoarseness in your voice, you need to give it some rest. Rest is also advised for people who have some developed vocal nodules. Forcing your voice will only worsen the situation and may lead to complete loss of your voice.

Can vocal cord edema hide nodules?

Yes, this can cause your nodules to not fully be recognizable unfortunately thus hiding them from being seen by the untrained eye.

Does Ibuprofen helps vocal nodules since it's an anti-inflammatory?

No, being that your vocal chords are high above in your body understand that once it is consumed the ibuprofen will only be affective in the lower level of your body.

Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • When in doubt, do not experiment - seek professional advice.
  • Eat healthy. This reduces the chance of you having vocal cord nodules.
  • Exercise. A fit body is no place for bacteria and viruses that can cause throat irritation.
  • Make sure that your doctor explains to you all possible side effects that can result after a vocal cord/fold surgery.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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