How to Prevent Vocal Nodules (Protect Your Voice)

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

How to prevent vocal nodules? What are vocal nodules and how do you get them? These are all the questions I will be answering
in this video. So, stick around. Hi! I am Katarina, speech language pathologist
from How 2 Improve Singing and here on this channel, I share practical tips about using
your voice in a healthy way. So, if this is a topic that interests you,
consider subscribing to this channel and hitting that bell notification icon so that you don’t
miss any of my videos. So, first of all. If we want to learn how to prevent vocal nodules,
we need to know what they are and how you get them in the first place. According to Wikipedia, “Vocal cord nodules
are bilaterally symmetrical benign white masses that form at the midpoint of the vocal folds”. Translated into normal language, it means
that vocal nodules are non-cancerous; they grow on both vocal folds somewhere in the
middle and they are whitish. Other names for vocal nodules are nodes, calluses
or singer’s nodes. The reason why vocal nodules grow in the middle
of vocal folds is because that is the place of the biggest impact when they come together. When we talk or sing, the vocal folds vibrate
at a very high frequency. They come together and touch each other 100s
and even 1000s of times per second when we produce voiced sounds. And every time they touch, cells from the
surface are damaged and lost. If you do this over a long period of time,
first the vocal folds will get swollen and overtime with more vocal misuse, a small masses
or growth of tissue start appearing on the vocal folds in the place of the biggest impact. As a result of these bumps, the vocal folds
cannot come together completely when speaking or singing. The vocal fold closure will be often times
incomplete and therefore, there will be air escaping between the vocal folds and therefore
the voice may sound breathy. People who have vocal nodules may feel that
speaking or singing is effortful and their vocal endurance may be limited. Also, the voice will sound hoarse, rough or
raspy because the nodules interfere with normal vibration of the vocal folds. So, there will be always some degree of hoarseness
present. The voice also may sound low or husky because
the mass of the vocal folds is increased. Singers with vocal nodules usually loose the
ability to sing high notes quietly or in general, loose some of their vocal range they’ve
had before. How do you know if you have vocal nodules? When you sound hoarse, it does not mean that
you have vocal nodules. You won’t know unless you visit a specialist
who will use a visual examination to see your vocal folds. This can be a simple indirect laryngoscopy
or videostroboscopy. I talked about these methods in my previous
video. So, how do you get vocal nodules? Well, vocal nodules are typically associated
with vocal misuse, abuse or overuse. People who are mostly affected by vocal nodules
are women, and especially women who like to talk a lot or women who are voice professionals
with high demands on voice use, like singers, fitness instructors, teachers, and especially
music teachers. I want to stress that vocal nodules do not
appear after one night of singing or loud cheering. Vocal nodules are a result of long-lasting
vocal behaviours with high impact on the vocal folds. Examples of such behaviours are excessive
or loud talking, excessive coughing or throat clearing, talking in loud environments, using
incorrect vocal technique, straining while singing and other behaviours. So, now that we know how vocal nodules develop,
we can also determine how to avoid them. Here are 5 tips on how to avoid vocal nodules: #1 Eliminate abusive vocal behaviours! Abusive vocal behaviours are behaviours with
high impact on vocal folds. Obvious examples are yelling and screaming
for prolonged periods of time. But also, behaviours which are less obvious,
such as coughing and throat clearing, or talking in noisy environments or singing without proper
amplification if you are not properly trained in this technique. Once you identify such behaviours, avoid them
all together. I prepared a checklist of such abusive behaviours
to help you identify them and eliminate them so that you can avoid any vocal issues. Click this link or a link below the video
to download the checklist. #2 Learn proper vocal technique when speaking
and singing. How do you know if you are using good vocal
technique? Some signs of poor vocal technique are a feeling
of tickling, itching, coughing, pain, discomfort or tension during or after speaking. The same applies to singing. I am sure you have experienced it before. You try to sing something new or in a slightly
different way than before, or you add more breath pressure or a little grunt to your
singing, and you end up with a scratchy feeling in your throat or the need to stop and cough
or clear your throat. This is your voice telling you that it did
not like the way you produced that sound. If you keep doing it over and over again without
paying attention to these signs, you can end up with vocal nodules in the long run. So, be in tune with your body and voice and
notice these signs. Singing should never hurt or be painful and
you should never end up with a hoarse voice during or after using your voice. If you are trying a new technique, make sure
that you understand what you need to do to avoid straining or pushing. If you have hoarseness that lasts more than
2 weeks, visit a voice specialist to have your voice evaluated. It is always easier to treat a voice problem
when you catch it early. #3 Steam your voice! Benefits of steaming your voice are now well
recognized. Steaming as a hydration method for voice professionals
is becoming more and more popular. I made a video, in which I compared a personal
vocal steamer and nebulizer. If you haven’t seen that video, you can
watch it later. In any case, steaming the old-fashioned way
over a pot of boiling water, in a steam room, hot shower or with a personal steamer is the
fastest way to bring moisture to your vocal instrument. If you are a professional voice user, you
should definitely steam your voice on a regular basis. It’s very relaxing! Try it and you will love it. #4 Keep that voice hydrated! I know this piece of advice gets old. Everyone says: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. But I also know that research shows that most
people (in some studies it’s as much as 75% of US population) are not well hydrated. So, I will keep saying it: keep a bottle of
water handy and sip it throughout the day, add fruits and vegetables with high water
content into your diet or add some soups to your meals. The bottom line is that dehydrated vocal folds
are more susceptible to vocal injuries. So, if you keep them hydrated, they will be
able to self-repair and defend themselves. #5 Don’t forget to rest your voice! Schedule periods of vocal rest during days
with high demand vocal use. If you know that you will be using your voice
all day long, find periods of time, during which you will rest your voice. For example, if you know that you have a full
day of vocal lessons during the day and an evening performance, don’t talk on the phone
during your breaks, or don’t talk in the car on the way to the theater, or be more
of a listener at the afterparty. Make that commitment to preserve your voice
whenever possible to give it a chance to restore. Ok. And that’s all for today. In the comments below, let me know which tip
you are going to apply right away. And check out my other videos right here below. I will see you in the next one.

7 thoughts on “How to Prevent Vocal Nodules (Protect Your Voice)

  1. The answer is simple. Discipline and listen to your body. Thank you, Ms. Katarina for coming up with these wonderful videos! It helps a lot amongst us who dreams to be a singer. Again, thank you so much and I really do appreciate you!

  2. Katarina you are such a Godsend! I am a vocal coach and I'm always learning new ways to protect and preserve mine and my student's voices thanks to you. Please keep up the amazing work.

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