What is a vocal nodule?
Vocal nodules are small, soft growths on the vocal folds that, if left untreated, harm the voice. They are usually caused by excessive strain on the voice when prolonged yelling makes the voice harsh. It may even cause a complete loss of the voice. Until they are treated, vocal nodules will have a debilitating effect on the voice.
Preventing vocal nodules is usually very simple. As a droll doctor may prescribe when a patient describes a condition brought on by poor choice, “Don’t do that!” In this case, “That” refers to smoking, prolonged shouting or excessively straining the voice, or just trying to use the voice normally after it has already been abused. “Don’t do that” is good advice, but it does not need the physician for diagnosis; it should be a common sense conclusion.
If smoking is a habit, don’t do that. Ending a smoking habit will not just improve the voice; it will have beneficial healing effects all over the body. If smoking is difficult to break — it is, but not impossible — at least reduce the frequency of smoking.
Control or eliminate alcohol and caffeine consumption. Both are diuretics; that is, they cause increased urination and a loss of proper hydration.
Try to limit exposure to dust, smoke and fumes or airborne caustic chemicals. Keep a handy handkerchief at hand to cover the mouth and nose when exposed to these irritants.
Stop yelling so much. Screaming is understandable when at sporting events and is more unfortunate because one screams at the home team as much as the visiting team, and at the umpires. Consider that with everyone else yelling their lungs out, one person cannot be heard. A mirror and a pointing finger will identify that person. Make it so. However, if the yelling is at the kids, the parents, friends and neighbours, calm down, relax and find peaceful accord. The “cords” will appreciate it.
Finally, be sure to drink enough fluids to keep the body and the larynx in particular, properly hydrated. Choose liquids that do not have built-in drying agents, such as alcohol. Water was the original and is still the most effective hydrating agent.
Fortunately, most incidents of vocal nodules will never need a physician’s prescription. Prevention is achieved without a physician’s oversight. Just hydrate, be considerate and be careful. Preventing vocal nodules will assure a healthy, clear and pleasant voice.
If you have questions about vocal nodules or speech therapy contact your local doctor, who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. We see adults and children for speech and language therapy. Contact us today!