Vocal cord lesions can be described as non-cancerous growths on the vocal cords. They are also known as vocal fold lesions. These lesions can make the patient’s voice sound hoarse and lead to a loss of vocal range. Patients may also feel the need to take frequent breaks while using their vocal cords. In addition, they may experience bouts of coughing and a shooting pain that goes from one ear to the other. Vocal cord lesions can be categorized under 4 heads and can affect both men and women.
Vocal Cord Polyps
These are the most common types of vocal cord lesions. They can occur on one or both vocal cords. These lesions appear reddish in colour and may resemble blisters. Vocal cord polyps are typically caused by overusing the vocal cords. When the vocal cords hit each other repeatedly, they can become inflame and irritated and lead to vocal cord polyps. A single traumatic event such as shouting for a long time can also cause vocal cord polyps. Some types of polyps such as polypoid corditis are also caused exclusively by smoking.
Vocal Cord Nodules
Vocal cord nodules can be described as small callus-like growths on the vocal cords. These are typically caused by repeated irritation of the vocal cords because of overusing them. Vocal cord nodules are usually located on both vocal cords. If left untreated, these nodules can stiffen and affect the patient’s voice.
Vocal Cord Cysts
Cysts refer to fluid or mucus filled sacs. They may also have a semi-solid core. These are the least common of all vocal cord lesions. Cysts usually result out of an irritation on the vocal cords. This obstructs the glandular ducts and leads to a buildup of mucus around the vocal cords. As the mucus gets clogged and cannot be removed, a cyst develops. Cysts can have a significant effect on the patient’s voice.
Vocal Cord Scars
Whenever injured, the body tries to heal itself. In repairing an injury to one of the vocal cords, scar tissue may form. This is less pliable as compared to normal tissue and affects the vibrations created. Thus, the person may experience a change in his or her voice. Unlike other forms of local cord lesions, scar tissue cannot be treated with medication or therapy. In cases where it seriously affects a person’s voice, surgery may be considered to remove the scar tissue.