Voicing Concerns About Singer’s Nodes


Ear, nose and throat doctors are eager to hit a chord with patients suffering the effects of vocal nodes. The most common cause of voice problems, according to ENTnet.org, a website for otolaryngologists, the growths have shorthand monikers such as “singer’s nodes,” but are called vocal fold lesions by most physicians.

Types of Discord

Nodules – Sometimes called calluses of the vocal fold, they grow in the center on both sides of your vocal cords, facing each other. When patients are instructed to refrain from using their voices, they often see them shrink or disappear completely.

Polyps – Showing up only on one side of your vocal cords, polyps take many shapes and sizes. There are also various health problems and changes that develop in your voice as a result.

Cysts – A mass of tissue located on the shallow surface of your vocal cords or near the ligaments, a cyst forms within a membrane, or sac. The size has an impact on the patient’s hoarseness or other voice concerns.

A change in voice quality and persistent hoarseness are often the first warning signs of a vocal cord lesion. Other symptoms can include:

  • Vocal fatigue

  • Unreliable voice

  • Gravel-like voice

  • Low pitch

  • Breathy voice

  • Inability to sing in high and soft

  • Extreme effort to speak or sing

  • Frequent throat clearing

Under the Spotlight

An otolaryngologist will begin by assessing your method of speech. He or she can examine your cords by performing a laryngoscopy with a stroboscopic light source. It’s not uncommon for your doctor to record the procedure, where a telescope tube is inserted into your mouth and your vocal cords are in view. Your physician will likely instruct you to rest your voice and a second exam will involve the same procedure to note changes.

Other associated medical problems can contribute to voice problems, such as: Reflux, allergies, medicationÂ’s side effects, and hormonal imbalances. An evaluation of these conditions is an important diagnostic factor as well.

Regaining Peak Performance

Medical professionals who recommend vocal rest are just preaching to the choir, especially where professional musicians are concerned. An ENT doctor may recommend voice therapy, singing voice therapy or phonomicrosurgery, where they use a microsurgical instrument to get a closer view and treat the condition more invasively. Surgery may be a necessary choice for a singer who improves his or her speaking voice through therapy, but has experienced limited changes in vocal music quality.

“Successful and appropriate treatment is highly individual and includes consideration of the patientÂ’’s vocal needs and the clinical judgment of the otolaryngologist,” says the website.

Medical professionals shouldn’t get much pushback, at least from patients who are tired of physical discord and would rather have their bodies functioning harmoniously. They know it’s no time for a solo act.

Jasper Mook by Denise Janssens is licensed under CC BY 4.0

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