Vocal Polyps

What are Vocal Polyps?

Vocal polyps (also termed Reinke’s edema or polypoid degeneration) are small, noncancerous growths on the vocal cords. Just as a vocal nodule is much like a callous, a vocal polyp is much like a blister. Vocal polyps are often the result of prolonged cigarette smoking, but can be caused by other conditions as well.

What Are the Symptoms?

The primary symptom of vocal polyps is hoarseness. The voice may also sound low-pitched or slightly breathy.

Causes of Vocal Nodules

Vocal polyps can result from a variety of conditions, including:

  • Long term cigarette smoking
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Chronic vocal misuse

Diagnosing Vocal Nodules

If you have experience hoarseness for 2 weeks or more, consult with your physician. He/she will review your symptoms and medical history, as well as perform a physical exam to determine the cause of your symptoms.

Treatment of Vocal Nodules

Treatment of Primary Condition

If vocal polyps are caused by other conditions besides vocal misuse or abuse, this condition needs to be treated first. Smoking cessation is highly recommended.

Voice Therapy

The best way to reverse conditions of vocal abuse and misuse is to correct the vocal pattern that has created the disorder. Learning good vocal technique can reduce the amount of pressure put on the vocal cords.


At times, surgery may be required to remove the polyps from the vocal cords. This can help reverse the disorder and can be performed in conjunction with voice therapy. More about surgery for vocal polyps


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