Vocal Cord Disorders – An Overview
Vocal cord abuse is a occurrence or behaviour that injures or strains the vocal cords. This injuries or strains include yelling, screaming, smoking, inhaling irritants, coughing, throat clearing or excessive talking. There are several vocal cord disorders which may affect an individual. Improper voice usage like speaking at an low or high pitch or speaking too loudly is referred as vocal abuse or misuse. If the vocal cords are misused frequently, then it might lead to vocal cord damage. Also it may cause temporary/permanent changes in the voice quality, vocal function or even voice loss. Read onto know more about vocal cord disorders.
The most common vocal cord disorders which occur due to vocal misuse and abuse include contact ulcers, vocal polyps, vocal nodules and laryngitis. These voice disorders are also referred as “hyperfunctional voice disorders.”
- Laryngitis – This is an swelling or inflammation of the vocal cords. This condition is caused by irritants like inhaled chemicals, by viral or bacterial infections, or by excessive voice usage. This is even caused by gastroesophageal reflux – upward flow of stomach acid into the throat. The voice of the affected individual sounds hoarse, breathy and raspy.
- Vocal Nodules – These are considered to be the most common among vocal cord disorders. These are benign, small growths found in the affected person’s vocal cords. This condition is directly associated with vocal misuse. This is also known as “singer’s nodes” as this occurs frequently among professional singers. The nodule formation occurs when damage is caused by pressure on the same site. The affected person’s voice sounds slightly breathy, low-pitched and hoarse.
- Vocal Polyps – This polyp is also known as polypoid degeneration or Reinke’s edema. This is a benign growth which resembles a vocal nodule, although it is much more softer. This condition occurs only on either one of the vocal cords. Also, this condition is most often linked to heavy cigarette smoking, although it is also associated with chronic vocal abuse, gastroesophageal reflux or hypothyroidism. Affected people have a breathy, hoarse and low-pitched voice which sounds similar to the voice affected by vocal nodules condition.
- Contact Ulcers – This condition is a rare condition among vocal cord disorders. This condition strikes those individuals who put too much effort to bring the vocal cords together during speech. This excessive force leads to the formation of ulcerated sores. Also, it wears off the tissues near the larynx’s cartilages, which brings the vocal cords together. Individuals who have gastroesophageal reflux may have these ulcer formation. They experience pain in their throat, mostly while talking.