|A vocal cord nodule (or "Nodules of vocal cords") is a nodule or mass of tissue that grows on the vocal folds (vocal cords). Typically this mass will appear on the anterior one-third of the vocal fold, where contact is most forceful.
A vocal cord nodule reduces or obstructs the ability of the vocal folds to create the rapid changes in air pressure which generate human speech. Symptoms include hoarseness of speech, painful speech production, frequent vocal breaks and reduced vocal range. Females are most likely to develop nodules.
The nodules appear as symmetric swellings on both sides of the vocal cords. The cause of these formations are usually strenuous or abusive voice practices such as yelling and coughing. Persons who are often susceptible are those who use their voice constantly in a loud environment. Examples include teachers, cheerleaders, politicians, actors, musicians and singers.
Vocal cord nodules, although they can certainly impair one's speaking and singing ability, rarely harm one's general health. Indeed, the psychological trauma of being diagnosed with nodules -- a trauma affecting those especially whose professional success depends on consistently producing a rich and powerful vocal tone (e.g. singers, actors, broadcasters) -- typically dwarfs the limited systemic and even otorhinolaryngological effects.
Treatment, or voice rehabilitation, usually involves vocal training, speech therapy, and, occasionally, vocal rest. In rare cases, surgery may be required. Removal of vocal cord nodules is a relatively safe and minor surgery. However, those who sing professionally or otherwise should take serious consideration before having surgery. While the patient is subdued under general anesthesia, long thin scissors and knives are used to remove the nodules. The best preventative steps seem to be wrapped up in the study of vocology, the science and practice of voice habilitation.
Symptoms of vocal nodules include vocal fatigue and hoarseness or breathiness. Hoarseness or breathiness that lasts for more than two weeks may signal a voice disorder and should be followed up with an appointment with ENT.