Are you frequently cancelling singing shows or, even worse, are you being avoided quite often from performing on stage due to a change in your voice? Did you ever feel something constantly annoying in your throat? It might be due to the presence of vocal nodules in your vocal folds. Don’t worry! We know that your voice is not only an important asset to you, but also your livelihood. We will guide you through in this difficult time of yours, until you are completely cured.
What are Vocal Nodules?
Vocal nodules and polyps are extra growths in the vocal folds, that is very irritating to the affected person. These lesions are generally caused due to vocal overuse, or trauma to the vocal folds. These can cause hoarseness of the voice and when the vocal folds collide violently swelling can develop around the site of the collision. Vocal nodules are bilaterally symmetrical white masses that form almost at the midpoint of the vocal folds. These are benign, that is, non-cancerous. In children, vocal fold nodules are more common in males; however, in adults, they are more common in females.
Generally the vocal nodules caused due to trauma gets recovered after several days of voice rest. However, these episodes often tend to repeat themselves, thus causing the vocal cords to swelling to become more persistent, and it is at this stage that a treatment from a recognised clinic for voice therapy in Kolkata becomes very essential. These vocal cord swellings are often termed as ‘soft nodules’, and if these are ignored, then it might lead to the gradual development of fibrous scar tissue. Untreated ‘soft nodules’ have the potential to stiffen the affected vocal area, and this leads to the formation of ‘hard nodules’. These ‘hard nodules’ are less able to vibrate effectively (which is important for the production of one’s voice), and are quite difficult to treat, as they do not resolve with the help of voice therapies, and hence require complex surgeries to be done so as to regain the natural voice. It is, therefore, important to consult an experienced Speech Therapist at a good centre that deals with voice therapy in Kolkata, who can better distinguish between a soft and an hard nodule.
Causes of Vocal Nodules
There can be various causes of vocal nodules, the major one being the fact that most of us do not give our voice time to rest. Another important cause being using vocal cords in the wrong way, as a result of which they swell. If this swelling is persistent and does not go away, the irritation that is caused grows firmer, and this results in the formation of vocal nodules. Therefore, it is always advised by professionals in the field of voice therapy in Kolkata to avoid over-straining the voice with shouting or singing for overtly longer periods of time.
Also, as already mentioned, a sad fact about vocal nodules is that women are more prone to these than men. It is because women’s vocal folds are shorter than that of men, thus making them vibrate faster. This stresses their vocal folds more than men’s and also they are much thinner, which reduces their ability to absorb the effects of collision. Apart from this, there are various other factors like medical, professional (teaching and singing) and behavioral factors, that are common in women. Therefore factors like faster vibration, thinner vocal folds, more voice use and less protection, together result in the women being more vulnerable to these annoying vocal nodules.
How do I know whether I have Vocal Nodules?
The common symptoms seen in a person having vocal nodules while speaking and/or singing are hoarseness, huskiness, breathiness, roughness and strain. The person might also experience pain in the neck, decreased vibrancy of tone, throat discomfort and tightness, and vocal fatigue. These symptoms, as declared by professionals at renowned centre for voice therapy in Kolkata become more prominent while the person is singing. A singer might also find himself/herself missing the high or low notes, might face difficulties with the onsets, and might even face problems managing the passaggio. If you continue to show these symptoms for more than 5-7 days, you must consult a trained Speech Language Pathologist at a good clinic dealing with voice therapy in Kolkata.
How to Get Rid of It? What are the Possible Treatments?
Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) will evaluate your speaking and singing voice and then decide which is the perfect treatment method for you. Also, they perform videostroboscopy tests to analyse them.
An ideal SLP at a renowned clinic that deals with voice therapy in Kolkata, will ask you the following questions –
- Do you sing more often, and for longer periods of time without taking much breaks?
- Have you changed your style of singing recently?
- Have you been singing without warming up or humidifying your voice?
- Have you been speaking quite often and/or at higher volume levels recently?
- Are you well-hydrated?
- Is your home and office environment warm and humid?
- Have you found yourself struggling with your voice while singing recently?
- Do you experience vocal fatigue and discomfort?
Based on your responses to these basic questions, your SLP will design a therapy treatment plan that would best suit you. Generally, vocal nodules go away after having a few consecutive sessions of voice therapy, and do not require any surgery.
What are the Preventive Measures?
There are some preventive measures for keeping vocal nodules at the bay. Professional and experienced Speech Language Pathologists at well-known centres for voice therapy in Kolkata have suggested the following preventive measures to be taken by everyone –
- Avoid over-straining of your voice (especially women). If you have to speak to a large audience, make use of a microphone.
- Drink plenty of water everyday. This will avoid your vocal cords from getting dehydrated. Dehydration might make the person put more stress while speaking.
- Quit smoking. This will dehydrate your vocal folds.
- Take occasional breaks in between singing shows, and even in between each song at a particular show.
- Perform vocal exercises regularly, as suggested by professionals. Also, learn how to use your vocal cords in the correct order. Using them in the wrong manner might strain your voice.
- Always keep your home and office warm and humid. Better still, use a humidifier to do so. It will keep your voice warm and humid, and prevent it from getting dehydrated.
- Avoid talking in presence of background noise.
- Avoid whispering and throat clearing.
In a nutshell, it is your responsibility to take care of your most important asset. The world cannot be imagined without speech and voice, and in your case it is all the more difficult to live with a voice disorder, as it is your livelihood. So make sure that you get a good treatment from a well-known centre for voice therapy in Kolkata. You will soon be back on that stage in front of a huge audience cheering for you.