When you suffer from vocal nodules--more commonly known as vocal cord nodules--a small, benign lump or growth has developed on your vocal cords. Misuse of your voice is by far the most common culprit, but smoking, allergies and digestive issues may also trigger this condition. Nodules often start out as irritated and inflamed patches of tissue that later harden to form the growth. But if you continue to misuse your voice, these nodules can enlarge and become much more rigid, prompting hoarseness, pain and even a change in pitch. This makes treatment important in sustaining your voice.
Before the treatment of vocal nodules can even begin, you'll need to consult with a doctor to determine the contributing factors of your specific condition. This is largely due to the fact that the initial step in treatment is dictated by the actual cause of the nodules. Any irritant prompting the formation of the growth must first be eliminated. Smoking must cease, allergy remedies are put in place and any digestive problems, such as acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), need to be better managed and controlled. Once the cause of the condition is no longer an issue, most nodules clear up all on their own.
However, if the nodules are a result of vocal misuse, treatment then turns to voice therapy. In this approach to care, you'll work with a voice therapist to learn a more effective and less abusive way to speak. This often includes a change in your vocal pitch and volume as well as breathing techniques to better support your voice. All of these factors can lessen the stress and damage you're placing on your vocal cords. As you incorporate these methods into your day-to-day speaking life, you should experience an improvement in the nodules.
When eliminating the irritant or having voice therapy fails to provide favorable results, the next option may be a surgical procedure. Though this form of treatment is more often seen in cases of vocal polyps (which are much larger growths on the vocal cords), it's still an option for severe nodules. In this type of procedure, the growth is manually removed from your vocal cord by way of a scalpel or laser. Since this is a more invasive form of treatment, it is often used as a last resort.