Updated: Jul 31, 2019
As I mentioned in my previous post’s. The vocal folds (also known as the vocal cords) are located inside the larynx. They are made up of muscle, ligament and mucosal tissue. The mucosal tissue of the vocal folds is delicate and can be quite easily damaged. The vocal folds vibrate at extremely high speeds of several hundred times per second when singing which means they can be easily stressed. Using the voice too much, too loud and incorrectly, especially in a bad environment’s (i.e. loud, smoky or dry) can cause the lining of the vocal folds to swell.
If you rest the voice when the vocal folds are swollen, the folds will return back to normal. But if you continue to use the voice when the vocal folds are swollen, the swollen spots will become thicker and thicker and this is how vocal polyps are formed.
In order to produce sound, air travels through the vocal folds to the mouth and the vocal folds vibrate. Anything that interferes with the vibration of the vocal folds is going to affect both the speaking and singing voice.
Vocal polyps develop on either one or both vocal folds and they are similar to blisters. They are fluid filled and they will usually have blood vessels feeding into them. They are generally larger than nodules and they vary in shape and size. Polyps can happen as a result of a single episode when singing or shouting forcibly on a sore throat or a husky voice.
Signs to listen out for:
- Hearing two pitches at the same time
- Hoarseness of speaking and singing voice
- Decreased vocal range
- Vocal fatigue
- Inability to sing quietly
- Inability to hold a steady pitch
- Throat discomfort, pain, tightness
Surgery may be recommended first as polyps don’t just go away with voice rest, once they have developed. Following on from surgery, voice therapy and voice hygiene interventions are likely to be recommended. This involves voice production work, learning how to use the muscles involved in voice to create the best possible sound. As well as learning, how to take care of the vocal folds to keep them free from irritants.
If you ever experience any of the above signs for more than a few days, get checked out by a laryngologist which is an ENT surgeon that specialises in voice. Voice disorders can often be misdiagnosed by ENT’s that don’t have specialised expertise in the voice. The earlier you get it checked out, the easier it is to reverse any possible damage.
If you need the details of any good ENT’s that specialise in voice here in London or LA, DM and I’ll send them over.
I hope this helps!
Have a blessed evening!!