The vocal cords rank high among the body parts most often taken for granted. These two bands of muscle and tissue sit inside your voice box and produce sound by coming together and vibrating. That also means these sounds can change when they can’t function properly, like when vocal cord polyps develop.
Dr. Vandana Kumra diagnoses and treats throat conditions at ENT New York in Manhattan. In this blog, she shares more information about vocal cord polyps and what often causes this condition.
Understanding vocal cord polyps
Several growths, including polyps, cysts, and nodules, can affect the vocal cords. Unlike other growths, polyps often look like a bump, blister, or long, thin swollen area. They’re also typically larger than nodules, which are harder, like a callous.
Your vocal cord tissue vibrates when air passes from your lungs to your mouth, resulting in sound. When polyps form, it makes it harder for the tissue to vibrate properly, triggering a variety of symptoms that can include:
- A rough, scratchy, or harsh-sounding voice
- Hoarseness or breathiness
- Vocal fatigue
- Neck pain or pain that shoots from ear to ear
- Loss of voice, vocal range, or problems changing pitch
It can also feel as though you have a lump in your throat.
Anyone can develop vocal cord polyps, but several things can increase your risk of the condition.
Causes of vocal cord polyps
Like other vocal cord growths, vocal cord polyps often occur from overusing or misusing the voice. This can occur because of a single event or chronic behaviors, like singing, coaching, cheerleading, and talking loudly or frequently.
Additional factors that can lead to vocal polyps include:
- Thyroid problems
- Acid reflux
- Tense muscles
Your chances of having vocal cord polyps also increase if you drink caffeine and alcohol, beverages that can dry out your throat and the delicate tissue in your voice box.
Diagnosing and treating vocal cord polyps
If you’ve noticed changes in your voice or other signs of a vocal cord problem, Dr. Kumra can get to the bottom of things with a throat and voice evaluation.
During these assessments, Dr. Kumra uses the most advanced technology to identify issues affecting the throat and voice box. These tests often involve a tiny mirror that allows her to see down your throat or a laryngoscopy.
“Laryngoscopy” may sound overwhelming, but it’s a minimally invasive procedure that involves a thin, flexible scope with a light. If you have vocal cord issues, Dr. Kumra can use this special tool to capture images of your vocal cords while looking for the cause of your symptoms.
Once Dr. Kumra diagnoses your condition, she can outline the best course of action. For instance, if you have large polyps, she can remove them using minimally invasive techniques.
In addition to treating the polyps themselves, Dr. Kumra can offer guidance in treating medical causes behind your condition, like allergies, thyroid problems, or acid reflux. Reducing other causes of vocal cord polyps, like smoking and stress, is also important.
Have you noticed changes in your voice or swallowing? Don’t ignore it. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Kumra at ENT New York in Manhattan today.