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Common vocal cord disorders include laryngitis, vocal polyps, vocal nodules, and vocal cord paralysis. Most disorders are caused by abuse or overuse of the voice, or by medical conditions such as asthma or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). They can also be caused by a respiratory infection or a virus. Treatment can include letting the voice rest, speech therapy, and in some cases surgery.
People who use their voices for work—like teachers, singers, and politicians—are at risk for vocal cord disorders. The main sign of a vocal cord disorder is sudden change in the voice. Symptoms can include:
With vocal cord dysfunction, symptoms can include trouble breathing, especially breathing in. The throat can feel tight. Symptoms usually come and go.
Ask a healthcare provider if:
Your healthcare provider may advise you to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor.
Most vocal cord disorders are cause by abuse or overuse of the voice. This can include:
They can also be caused by medical conditions, such as:
Vocal cord paralysis is caused by nerve damage. This may result from:
The cause of vocal cord dysfunction is not clear. Triggers that make it act up can include:
A healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and medical history. They can also look closely at your vocal cords with a small scope. Finding the cause of the vocal cord disorder will help decide on the best treatment.
You can help prevent vocal cord disorders if you:
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders NIDCD Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Toll-free voice: (800) 241-1044
Toll-free TTY: (800) 241-1055
Some common vocal cord disorders include: