Vocal nodules are caused by repeated abuse and misuse of your vocal cords (yelling, loud singing or smoking). Swollen areas can develop, which then harden as they grow. These benign (noncancerous) growths are your vocal cords can cause hoarseness, feeling as if there is a lump in your throat and pain that extends ear to ear.
At the UVM Medical Center, our team of experts uses the most advanced technology available to diagnose and treat vocal nodules.
Vocal Nodule Care at UVM Medical Center
You can take steps to avoid developing vocal nodules, such as avoiding frequent yelling and quitting smoking. It’s also important to manage conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and hypothyroidism because they can lead to nodule formation.
If you’ve developed vocal nodules and decide to receive your care from the UVM Medical Center, you can expect an approach that includes:
- Teamwork - Our doctors take a collaborative approach to treat vocal nodules. A number of different specialists work together to provide the most effective care possible.
- Technology - We use the most sophisticated technology available for diagnosing and treating vocal nodules, including endoscopy.
- Personalized Care - The treatment the doctors at the UVM Medical Center recommend will depend on your the severity of the vocal nodules, your age, and your personal preference. We will design a course of treatment specifically for you.
- Experienced, Trusted Expertise - Our specialists have years of diagnosing and treating vocal nodules. Our ENT (Ears, Nose & Throat) department is one of the best is the region, so you can feel confident you have placed your care in the right hands.
Vocal Nodule Diagnosis
If you experience a hoarse voice for more than two weeks, you should make an appointment to receive a diagnosis. A number of specialists may be involved in your evaluation. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that we provide you with the most accurate diagnosis possible. Diagnostic procedures include:
- Physical Examination - An examination will be performed by an otolaryngologist (a doctor who specializes in problems of the ear, nose & throat), a speech-language pathologist (SLP), and a neurologist. This team is evaluating:
- The quality of your voice
- How loud your voice is
- The pitch of your voice
- How long you can sustain a voice
- Stroboscopy - A stroboscopy is a type of endoscopic procedure that uses a stroboscope, a thin tube with a flashing light at the tip. Because vocal cords vibrate so quickly when you produce sounds, it is impossible to see without a special instrument. The stroboscope provides a slow-motion view of your vocal cords that allow the doctors to see critical information. This info is then used to confirm a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.
Treatments for Vocal Nodules
Once a precise diagnosis has been confirmed, we will discuss your treatment options with you and tailor a plan that matches your needs & preferences. Your treatment options may include:
- Voice Therapy - Simply resting your voice may improve symptoms and even shrink the nodules. However, it does not treat the root problem and your symptoms may return. Voice therapy is a type of behavioral therapy that aims to increase your awareness of your vocal habits and the circumstances that lead to voice abuse. A trained speech-language pathologist can help you to learn good vocal habits, stress reduction, and relaxation exercises.
- Medication - Medication can be used to treat an underlying problem, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies or thyroid problems. Anti-inflammatory steroids may be used to reduce swelling, as well as drugs to help you quit smoking or to control stress.
- Surgery - If the vocal nodules are too large to be managed with therapy and medication, your doctor may recommend surgery. The surgery option is relatively uncommon and removes the nodules by using a procedure called laryngoscopy.