The Truth About Vocal Nodules, Nodes, Polyps: Causes, Prevention, and Cures
Four Important Facts About Vocal Cord Nodules, Polyps, and Nodes
If you suspect that you may have vocal nodules (or nodes) or polyps, I highly recommend visiting a laryngologist to have your vocal cords examined.
It's also a good idea to learn as much as you can about the causes and symptoms of this condition. Preventative measures are always better. You will learn just how these growths are formed and how to protect yourself against them.
Here are four important facts to know:
- When the vocal cords have been abused, blisters or calluses may form on the vocal folds. These bumps may be called either vocal polyps, or vocal nodes or nodules.
- This occurrence is mostly found in those who use their voices for teaching, acting, communications, sales, singing, and public speakers. Children may also develop vocal nodules.
- Polyps are usually larger than nodules and may be called by other names, such as polypoid degeneration or Reinke's edema. The difference between nodules and polyps is a nodule is more like a callus, whereas a polyp is more like a blister.
- Polyps appear on either one or both of the vocal cords and become larger the longer the vocal abuse continues.
Now, let's examine the causes of this condition.
Watch This Detailed Video of How the Vocal Cords Work
Three Causes of Vocal Abuse and Strain
Singers and speakers can develop polyps and not even know it. Learn the causes of vocal abuse and avoid these bad habits at all cost.
The following are causes of vocal abuse and strain:
Abusing the voice. In most cases, the number one cause of vocal strain leading to nodules and polyps is abusing the voice in the form of screaming or yelling.
Lack of good vocal technique. The number two cause is lack of good vocal technique. Singers should warm up for a minimum of 20 minutes (with proper warm up exercises) before singing. A complete knowledge of breath management is crucial for safe singing and to avoid vocal strain and abuse. Always avoid singing too loud which forces the tone and strains the voice. Trying to sing higher than is absolutely easy and comfortable will cause the vocal cords to stress and constrict.
Smoking. The third reason for vocal abuse is smoking. Smoking can seriously harm your voice and is a definite no-no for those who rely on their voice for their job. The tissues of the larynx will become red, inflamed and dry. Also, they may thicken too which can significantly alter the sound of the voice and its ability to perform.
Keep these three causes in mind when using your voice—starting now!
Four Important Tips for a Healthy Voice
Important Tips for Singers and Speakers
There are some things you can do to ensure good vocal health. Here is a checklist to follow:
- Hydration. Keep your voice well hydrated. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of room temperature water each day. The vocal cords need moisture to perform well. The more speaking and singing you do, the more water you need to drink. Drinking water helps keep mucus thin. Also, keep in mind that alcohol and caffeine are drying to the throat, so increase your intake of water when consuming those products.
- Avoiding dairy. Dairy products can produce mucus so go easy on milk, cheese, ice cream and such.
- Be careful with medication. Certain medications contain agents that dehydrate mucous membranes. While this may alleviate some of your cold symptoms, they also may dehydrate the vocal folds (cords). Use these medications carefully if you need them and drink more water.
- Take care while sick. When a viral bug gets you down, your vocal folds become swollen. You may notice this will make your voice deeper, husky, or hoarse. It is important to treat your voice with some extra care when these illnesses occur.
- Don't forget steam. Steam is great for the vocal cords. Inhale gently when in the shower to bring moisture to the throat. Or, boil water in a pot, remove from the stove and (taking care not to burn your face), inhale the steam. Adding a towel draped over the head during inhalation helps.
- Keep throat clearing to a minimal. Do not clear your throat which can damage the vocal tissue. Either drink water or swallow a few times to clear the mucus. (Note: You can also crush 10 black peppercorns and 15 tulsi leaves. Add one teaspoon of honey. Lick this three times a day. It'll help to remove the collected phlegm and clears the throat).
- Breathe properly. Learn how to breathe properly by using abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing.
- Rest. Rest your voice until your symptoms are gone.
- Seek professional attention. Always seek the help of a professional physician if you suspect vocal nodules or polyps.
Preventative care is the best method for protecting yourself from straining your voice, which can cause vocal polyps or vocal nodes. The voice is meant to last us a lifetime. By following a program of good vocal health and following the above steps, you will enjoy singing, speaking, and acting without the fear of damaging your voice.
Sing with joy.
Points to Remember
In summing this up, I'd like to add a couple of my final comments with regards to singing. Remember, everyone has a right to sing. Singing is not meant for a selected few. There is no room for harsh and critical words hurled at anyone who sings.
Anyone can sing. We all have a pair of vocal cords which vibrate to produce sound. When these vibrations are sustained we are singing. Air passes through the vocal cords which causes the vibrations to occur. It's just that simple.
The more we study voice and learn how to use all the resources available to us, the better our singing becomes.
Never allow anyone to keep you from singing. Listen to your heart. If you love to sing, then do it. Don't be self-conscious. Express your feelings through singing. It's fun and it's healthy.
- Your voice is meant to last a lifetime. Just listen to the great Tony Bennett in the video below. He was born August 3, 1926.
- To avoid throat problems such as polyps and nodules, do not scream and yell.
- Always sing within your range -- not too high or too low.
- Use proper vocal technique such as breath control.
- Refrain from clearing your throat.
- Use steam for healing the throat.
- Drink plenty of water. Cold and ice will restrict your vocal folds so make sure the water is room temperature.
- Always seek the help of a professional physician if you think you might have polyps.
Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.— Aretha Franklin
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© 2010 Audrey Hunt