Whether or not you’re an aspiring balladeer, everyone is at risk of injuring their vocal cords, especially if they don’t take care of their voices. Luckily, top hospital in the Philippines Makati Medical Center is here to break down how vocal cords are usually injured and how you can avoid straining them.
According to Shiella B. Lim, MD of MakatiMed’s Department of Otorhinolaryngology, the three most common results of injury to the vocal cords are: nodules, polyps, and cysts. Though they all have little differences, they share one underlying cause: overusing one’s voice. They usually result from such seemingly harmless activities as shouting at a sports match or singing without resting. Many times, these lesions can develop into voice disorders that require surgery to be treated.
“Vocal cord nodules are calluses in the vocal cords, and often present problems by making you hoarse or voiceless,” she says. “They’re more commonly seen in female adults than men, and in children of both genders. Patients with vocal fold nodules usually have a history of vocal abuse or misuse. This is the most common type of lesion found in singers.”
Vocal cord polyps, on the other hand, are characterized by swelling anywhere in the vocal fold. These usually appear on one side but can also show up on both vocal folds depending on the case – and are normally caused by dehydration, repeated yelling, coughing or extreme vocal abuse. “Lifestyle habits can also contribute to the development of these issues, such as excessive smoking and alcohol consumption,” Dr. Lim points out.
A less common form of lesions, vocal cord cysts either develop from a clogged duct in the vocal cord (the cause for this remains unknown), or from stressing out your voice. In this case, anyone is susceptible.
“To restore a patient’s vocal abilities, we often recommend voice therapy, surgery, or a combination of both,” said Dr. Lim. “At times, it may be difficult to distinguish between a cyst, a polyp or a nodule. An Ears, Nose, and Throat (ENT) consultant is the best person to make a proper diagnosis, usually via endoscopy or a video-imaging method known as videostroboscopy. The initial treatment for all three conditions is voice therapy, which can be used as a diagnostic tool. Once the underlying cause presents itself after voice therapy, the treatment is then adjusted,” she explains.
“For cases which require surgery, we use precise instruments and techniques that let us see every tiny detail of the vocal cords. Our team of highly specialized voice therapists are also at the service of patients both before and after surgery” Dr. Lim says.
For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.8888 999 or visit www.makatimed.net.ph.