Pediatric Vocal Cord Polyps

Pediatric Vocal Cord Polyps

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Summary

Vocal cord polyps are blister-like lesions that form on the vocal cords as a result of vocal abuse. They interfere with the ability of the vocal cords (also called vocal folds) to vibrate, which causes changes in the voice.

Expanded Overview

Overuse of the voice can damage the vocal cords and lead to the formation of vocal polyps. Vocal cord polyps can also be called polypoid degeneration or Reinke’s edema.

Sounds are produced when air pushed up from the lungs passes through the vocal cords, which are a V-shaped band of muscle located in the larynx (voice box). When the voice is overused, the vocal cords can become swollen. With repeated vocal abuse, the swollen spots do not have time to heal and can form polyps.

These noncancerous lesions form on one or both of the vocal cords and look like blisters. They interfere with the ability of the vocal cords to vibrate. Vocal cord polyps are larger than vocal cord nodules and have more blood vessels, so they appear redder than nodules.

The causes and symptoms are similar for both vocal cord polyps and vocal cord nodules. When a child is treated for vocal cord nodules, but fails to improve, doctors may then diagnose them with vocal cord polyps.

Causes

Misuse or overuse of the voice due to the following conditions or activities can lead to vocal cord polyps:

  • Allergies
  • Cheering
  • Dehydration/throat dryness
  • Emotional outbursts like yelling or crying
  • Excessive throat clearing or coughing
  • Singing
  • Speaking in a strained voice
  • Using excessively loud sounds or voice
     

Symptoms

Symptoms that you child has vocal cord polyps include:

  • Breaks in the voice
  • Coughing and throat clearing
  • Difficulty changing pitch
  • Difficulty singing/holding notes
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarse (harsh, raspy or strained) voice
  • Neck/throat pain
  • Scratchy voice
  • Sensation of a "lump" in the throat
  • Shooting pain from ear to ear
  • Straining neck or shoulder muscles while speaking

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