Vocal nodules are hard callouses that form on the vocal folds in the throat as the result of abuse. They form in pairs and impact the sufferers ability to speak and speak and sing normally. ENT Dr. Robert Contrucci treats patients suffering from many throat conditions including vocal nodules at his Pembroke Pines medical practice.
How Vocal Nodules Develop
The vocal folds are small muscles that attach to the sides of the larynx. The opening between them is referred to as the glottis. The glottis opens to allow air through to the lungs. The folds come together to phonate, or make sound. Bringing the folds together harshly and repeatedly will ultimately result in damage on certain spots on the vocal fold similar to bruising. This bruised area will ultimately develop a hard covering, or nodule. While nodules often form across from each other on the vocal folds at the same time, often the damaged fold will create the nodule across from it by rubbing on the undamaged fold until both folds have a matching nodule.
Symptoms Of Vocal Nodules
Nodules affect the voice by limiting the vibratory and elastic capabilities of the vocal fold. Speakers may find their voice becomes tired easily. Singers will often find a “hole” in their voice, or a spot in their normal singing range that no longer phonates. This “hole” is caused by the inability of the folds to come together consistently at the needed elasticity to make that note sound.
Avoiding Vocal Nodules
1) Stay away from cigarette smoke. If you’re currently struggling to quit smoking, avoid cigarettes directly after a long bout of speaking or singing. Phonating oxygenates the vocal folds and makes them more susceptible to damage.
2) If you have a lot of speaking or singing to do, avoid beverages of extreme temperature. Drink room temperature water when possible to keep the throat lubricated. Cold beverages increase phlegm and hot beverages dry the folds.
3) Warm up the voice gently.
4) Protect the voice when you’re sick. Coughing and sneezing are tremendous shocks to the vocal folds. If possible, stay quiet and let the folds rest until you’re well.