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Vocal cord lesions are one of the most common causes of voice problems. They include vocal nodules and vocal polyps, which are abnormal growths on your vocal cords.

  1. Vocal nodules are thickened areas that typically occur on both vocal folds, and are often known as “singer’s nodules” or “calluses of the vocal fold”
  2. Vocal polyps are growths that usually present on only one vocal fold, and may look like a swollen bump or blister
Causes
  1. Usually caused by repetitive vocal cord trauma (e.g. frequent shouting)
  2. Reflux of stomach acid into the larynx
  3. Long-time exposure to irritants (e.g. cigarette smoke, alcohol)
Symptoms
  1. Hoarse and rough voice
  2. Lowered pitch
  3. Breathy voice
  4. Voice breaking
  5. Frequent throat-clearing
  6. Vocal fatigue
Diagnosis
  1. May pass a nasoendoscope down through the nose to the voice box (under local anaesthesia)
  2. A more detailed examination may require the use of a videostroboscopy
    1. A telescope tube with light is passed through the mouth to view the voice box (under anaesthesia)
  3. History of voice use and other medical conditions will be evaluated as well
Treatment

Treatment greatly depends on what caused the vocal nodules or polyps, their size and other medical problems you may have that affects the voice. You may have to treat your reflux, nasal allergies and thyroid problems before the vocal nodules will go away. You may have to stop smoking and you may have to see a vocal therapist. Or you may simply require a period of voice rest.

Only if all these fail, will vocal surgery be considered.

Know Your ENT Specialist
Dr Paul Mok
Senior Consultant ENT Surgeon
MBBS, FRCS (Glasgow), FAMS (ORL)

Dr Paul Mok Kan Hwei is a certified specialist in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (ENT) and has had a distinguished career in public service for the past 23 years.

He cares for patients with a wide variety of ENT conditions including managing patients with nasal allergies, sinus infections, ear problems and swellings in the head and neck region. His special areas of interests are in Voice, Swallowing and managing patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.