If you are having problems with your voice, you might be concerned that you have a serious problem—especially if you use your voice to make a living. But if you’re told you have vocal cord nodules, also called vocal fold nodules or singer’s nodules, you can rest easy. Vocal cord nodules can cause your voice to sound strange, but they are not serious and they aren’t a sign of anything serious, like cancer. Learn what to expect after you’ve been told you have vocal cord nodules and what you can do to help yourself. First Steps in Vocal Cord Nodules Treatment Vocal cord nodule symptoms include having a hoarse voice, a cracking voice, or not being able to use the full range of your voice. These symptoms combined with an explanation of what you do for a living or how you use your voice may have told your doctor what your problem is. If your doctor wasn’t sure or had concerns there may be another problem, you might have been referred to an otolaryngologist, also called and ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor, who examined you further. But regardless of how the diagnosis was made, generally the first steps in treatment are the same: Don’t use your voice. Don’t talk, sing, shout, even whisper. Allow your vocal cords to rest. Breathe in moist air. If you live in a dry environment, use a humidifier or vaporizer to introduce moisture into the air. Drink fluids to hydrate yourself. But don’t drink coffee or alcohol, because they are dehydrating. Don’t smoke. Most often, these steps will help nodules shrink and go away. Next Steps in Vocal Cord Nodules Treatment Once you’ve been diagnosed with vocal cord nodules, your doctor may recommend you meet with a speech therapist to learn more about vocal hygiene. Vocal hygiene refers to how you take care of your throat and vocal cords. It will help you keep your voice and reduce the risk of the nodules worsening or developing new ones. The therapist will go over the various factors that could irritate your vocal cords and teach you breathing techniques and neck exercises to do before you have to project your voice. Aggravating Factors for Vocal Cord Nodules Another issue your doctor may look at is whether you have any health issues that could be contributing to nodules forming on your vocal cords. The most common issues are gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and allergies to airborne allergens, like pollen, dust and animal dander. If you have GERD, your doctor may recommend you take medications to ease or stop the acid from backing up in your throat. For allergies, your doctor may suggest you take antihistamines, along with making environmental changes, like using an air purifier. If You Have Vocal Cord Nodule Surgery Surgery to remove vocal cord nodules is not common. Doctors prefer to take care of them with home care and by eliminating aggravating factors before deciding on surgery. But if the nodes are large and affecting your quality of life or you are a professional singer or performer, surgery may be an earlier option. Regardless of the type of surgery you have, your doctor will likely recommend you meet with a speech therapist for a few sessions for some voice therapy after the procedure. This involves some voice exercises, as well as the breathing and relaxation techniques. If you have laser surgery to remove the nodules, there is relatively little recovery time. Since there is no anesthetic and limited risk of complications, you can likely drive home alone, although it is always a good idea to have a companion take you home after any procedure. You can probably return to work the next day but only if you don’t have to use your voice. For the first few days, you should speak as little as possible. If you do have to speak, don’t whisper as this makes your cords vibrate as much as loud talking might. Instead, speak quietly and evenly, for as short a period as you can. After a few days, you may begin speaking more, but don’t stress your voice. Speak quietly and gently. If you undergo microlaryngoscopy to remove the nodules, your recovery period may be a bit longer. It would be wise to have a companion with you to take you home after the procedure. Because the doctor cut out the nodule, you may have some pain in your throat or jaw. Ask your doctor what you should take for this if the pain is too uncomfortable. Usually, doctors recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever. As with the laser surgery, you will be told not to use your voice and then to begin using it slowly. Vocal Cord Nodule Surgery Prognosis Surgery for vocal cord nodules is generally successful and most people are back to using their voices normally within six weeks or so. However, like all surgical procedures, there may be some complications. They are rare, but watch for signs of bleeding or infection. If you have bleeding, you’ll feel like there is something in your throat and you want to clear it. You may even cough up some blood. If you have an infection, you may feel increasing pain, and you may have a fever. In both cases, contact your doctor right away. A rare complication is damage to the vocal cords or scarring that affects your voice permanently.