Vocal Cord Polyps 101


People who know me can attest to the raspy voice I have. It seems to get worst over weekends when I’m at bars, concerts or other loud places. Until I reached no voice over my family vacation during the holiday season, it was recommended that I get it checked out by an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor. I made my appointment thinking it was probably just a sore throat and it happens when I go out on the weekends. However, after the doctor inserted an endoscope into my nose to monitor the movement of my larynx, the video showed that I have a polyp on my left vocal cord.

[image of a vocal cord polyp (not mine); via voicemedicine.com]

A vocal cord polyp is a “blister” or swelling of the vocal cord(s). It is benign, but one wants to try and prevent the swelling from continuing, which can continue to become painful and inconvenient for a person. The polyp(s) sit on the vocal cords in a way that when you speak, they aren’t closing completely and air comes out (creating the raspy/breathy voice.)

There are several things that are recommended when being diagnosed with a polyp. If it doesn’t provide any discomfort or show any signs of inconvenience, you can choose to leave it as is – drink a lot of water and tea and minimize alcohol intake as much as you can. For those who experience inconvenience in speech, speech therapy has been recommended. Studies have shown that speech therapy (when done on a consistent basis) can lessen polyps and eventually go away. For those who want to take a more extreme approach, vocal cord surgery is also an option (although it isn’t guaranteed that they won’t come back after surgery.)

As for my personal situation, I am starting to take speech therapy and re-learning proper speech techniques such as speech/breathing techniques and working on my speech rate which will hopefully help with my speech and polyp.

Fore more thorough details about vocal cord polyps and nodules visit the American Speech – Language – Hearing Association, http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/nodulespolyps.htm

Speech Therapy details/recommendations:

Lauren Brash, ClearlySpeech PLLC


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