A Vocal nodule develops as the result of repeated trauma to the vocal chords. An example would be if you wear shoes too tight, they are going to rub , get sore and eventually will cause a blister or callous. With regards to your vocal chords, a small, soft swelling will develop at the site of the trauma, and this could interfere with the closure and vibration of the vocal chords causing hoarseness.
Symptoms of a vocal nodule may include: the voice may become husky and less responsive over a certain pitch range, losing clarity and brightness. The voice may be slow to warm-up and may sound deeper, weaker and more breathy, particularly in the upper range. The voice may also start to cut out around certain notes. Over time this may lead to the speaking voice becoming more noticeably hoarse and breathy.
A soft nodule can usually be treated successfully with vocal rest, voice therapy and good vocal care. A singing teacher or speech therapist can help you with your voice technique, and provide you with carefully targeted exercises to ensure your voice muscles are used effectively, and how you can use vocal care to prevent them from returning
If soft nodules are ignored, then more persistent damage may produce more fibrous scar tissue, which is often referred to as a hard nodule. A Hard nodule doesn’t respond well to voice therapy and may require surgery.
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of nodules, please don’t ignore them. The sooner you seek treatment, the better the result. Speak to your GP about it. The may suggest voice rest, or seek out voice exercises/technique from a singing teacher or vocal coach. If your symptoms are more severe, then you may refer you to the local ENT department for further investigation.
In the past surgical outcome for vocal nodules was poor giving nodules the reputation of being the end of your career. However, surgical techniques have changed considerably recently, allowing most vocal nodules to be removed safely and effectively.
Vocal nodule (s) are a nuisance, but don’t beat yourself up about it. If diagnosed early, then you can work at what caused them and how you can prevent them coming back:
Some self-help techniques to help prevent developing a nodule:
Avoid shouting and whispering
Try not to cough or persistently clear your throat
Keep your body well hydrated and avoid irritants such as smoke
Inhaling steam can help soothe irritated chords.
If you are singer, always warm-up your voice before you start singing, and don’t sing too loud or too quiet for any length of time.
Listen to your voice. If it starts sounding croaky, or begins to feel tired or sore, then you are probably overdoing it, so take a break.
Rest your voice whenever possible