Skip to main content

Three Causes of Vocal Strain

Audrey's vast background as an international vocal teacher and author gives us important tips for keeping our voices polyp free.

Actor/singer Wren enrolls in Audrey's recovery class when he experiences hoarseness.

Actor/singer Wren enrolls in Audrey's recovery class when he experiences hoarseness.

Three Causes of Vocal Abuse and Strain

Singers and speakers can develop polyps and not even know it. Take a look at the three main causes of vocal strain:

  1. Abusing the voice. In most cases, the number one cause of vocal strain leading to nodules and polyps is abusing the voice in the form of screaming or yelling.
  2. Lack of good vocal technique. Lack of good vocal technique most assuredly will lead to further vocal strain.
  3. Smoking and certain drugs. The third reason for vocal abuse is smoking or taking aniti histamines. The tissues of the larynx will become red, inflamed and dry. Also, they may thicken too, which can significantly alter the sound of the voice and its ability to perform.

Four Facts You May Not Know About Polyps

Here are four important facts to know:

  • Blisters or calluses may form on the vocal folds when the vocal cords have been abused. These bumps may be called vocal polyps, vocal nodes, or nodules.
  • This occurrence is mainly found in those who use their voices for teaching, acting, communications, sales, singing, and public speakers. Children may also develop vocal nodules.
  • Polyps are usually larger than nodules and may be called by other names, such as polypoid degeneration or Reinke's edema. The difference between nodules and polyps is a nodule is more like a callus, whereas a polyp is more like a blister.
  • Polyps appear on either one or both of the vocal cords and become more prominent the more extended the vocal abuse continues.

Now, let's examine the causes of this condition.

Are You Over Singing?

Important Tips for Singers and Speakers

There are some things you can do to ensure good vocal health. Here is a checklist to follow:

  • Hydration. Keep your voice well hydrated. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of room temperature water each day. The vocal cords need moisture to perform well. The more you speak and sing, the more water you need to drink. Drinking water helps keep mucus thin.
  • Alcohol and caffeine are drying to the throat, so increase your water intake when consuming those products. Avoid soft drinks, which are proving to be a contributing factor to disease. There is no substitute for pure, clean water.
  • Avoid dairy, which produces mucus. So go easy on milk, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt.
  • Be careful with medication. Certain medications contain agents that dehydrate mucous membranes. While this may alleviate some of your cold symptoms, it also may dehydrate the vocal folds (cords). Use these medications carefully if you need them, and drink more water.
  • Take care while sick. When a viral bug gets you down, your vocal folds become swollen. You may notice this will make your voice deeper, husky, or hoarse. It is essential to treat your voice with some extra care when these illnesses occur. Try to avoid singing during times of illness.
  • Don't forget steam. Steam is great for the vocal cords. Inhale gently when in the shower to bring moisture to the throat. Or, boil water in a pot, remove it from the stove, and (taking care not to burn your face) inhale the steam. Adding a towel draped over the head during inhalation helps.
  • Keep throat clearing to a minimum. Do not clear your throat, which can damage the vocal tissue. Either drink water or swallow a few times to clear the mucus. (Note: You can crush ten black peppercorns and 15 tulsi leaves. Add one teaspoon of honey. Lick this three times a day. It'll help to remove the collected phlegm and clears the throat).
  • Breathe properly. Learn how to breathe correctly by using abdominal/diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Rest. Rest your voice until all symptoms of illness and stress are gone.
  • Seek professional attention. Always seek the help of an experienced physician if you suspect vocal nodules or polyps.

Think You May Have Vocal Polyps?

If you suspect that you may have vocal nodules or polyps, I highly recommend visiting a laryngologist to examine your vocal cords. Laryngologist deals with illnesses and injuries of the larynx, often called the voice box.

The voice box sits in the front of the neck and contains the vocal cords. The larynx is responsible for sound production and swallowing.

It's also a good idea to learn as much as possible about the causes and symptoms of Nodules, Polyps, and Nodes. Preventative measures are always better. I hope to help you learn how these growths are formed and how to protect yourself against them.

Preventative Care

Preventative care is the best method for protecting yourself from straining your voice, which can cause vocal polyps or vocal nodes. The voice is meant to last us a lifetime. By following a program of good vocal health and following the above steps, you will enjoy singing, speaking, and acting without the fear of damaging your voice.

Four Important Tips for a Healthy Voice

1. Drink plenty of water to keep the vocal cords hydrated.

1. Drink plenty of water to keep the vocal cords hydrated.

2. Avoid all dairy before singing to avoid phlegm

2. Avoid all dairy before singing to avoid phlegm

3. Your throat should never hurt because of singing. If it does, check your breathing and placement of tone.

3. Your throat should never hurt because of singing. If it does, check your breathing and placement of tone.

Scroll to Continue
4. Avoid screaming at all cost. That goes for yelling, too.

4. Avoid screaming at all cost. That goes for yelling, too.

Points to Remember

The more we study voice and learn to use all the resources available, the better our singing becomes

  • Your voice is meant to last a lifetime. Just listen to the great Tony Bennett in the video below. He was born on August 3, 1926.
  • Do not scream and yell to avoid throat problems such as polyps and nodules.
  • Always sing within your range -- not too high or too low.
  • Use a proper vocal technique, such as breath control.
  • Refrain from clearing your throat.
  • Use steam to heal the throat.
  • Drink plenty of water. Cold and ice will restrict your vocal folds, so ensure the water is at room temperature.
  • Always seek the help of a professional physician if you think you might have polyps.

Singing helps to alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. Sing often and freely. Never allow anyone to keep you from singing. Listen to your heart. If you love to sing, do it. It's fun, and it's good for you.

Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I'm using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I'm happy with that.

— Aretha Franklin

How would you rate your singing voice?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2010 Audrey Hunt


Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 10, 2017:


The best way to overcome fear is to face it. Opportunities are plenty out there to help you gain experience singing. Rest homes for the aged, community events, join a choir. When you've gained experience to sing for others you will begin to feel comfortable and your fear will cease.

Are you studying voice? If not I urge you to sign up for lessons provided for a small fee. Face your fear - then audition!

Babydoll Jones 2480 on July 07, 2017:

Hi, I want to apply for a singing job in order to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a singer. But I don't have the confidence to go on a stage. When I do, I get so scared my voice cracks. Do you have any advice for me to calm my nerves so I can get back on a stage without having stage freight?

Ffion on June 18, 2017:

Hi, I'm about to enter a talent show. I'm performing a song that I have to sing very loud and high to, but I often find that as soon as I finish singing the loud chorus, my voice goes extremely dry and I can't hit the lower notes for the other lyrics. I'm terrified this will happen on the night, do you know how to prevent this?

Cool Jams on May 14, 2017:

Thank you for the advice. I will make time to try your breath control lesson. Thank you again. Have a good Mother's Day! Best regards Cool Jams

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on May 13, 2017:

Cool Jams

If your throat hurts after you sing it's due to incorrect breathing. Read my hub on "Diaphragmatic Breathing" to learn how to breathe for singing.

You are slowly damaging your vocal cords when this happens. Remember to sing softer and when singing high notes increase your breath support.

Thanks and good luck.

Cool Jams on May 11, 2017:

Hi Audrey I love to sing and I am trying to memorize a song for a big play coming up and my throat hurts sometimes after I sin should I be worried?

tgoldberg on March 04, 2017:

Hi Audrey,

Thanks for the useful article. I am an active solo and choral singer (male) that has recently been singing more than normal, and have been suffering lately from issues that *could* be early signs of nodes, but I'm not positive. It's obvious that I have some form of vocal exhaustion from overuse, but I'm fairly well trained in healthy singing. I plan on taking a long rest after two concerts this weekend, but I wanted to know if there was any way to tell between normal exhaustion and proper nodes? Thanks!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 10, 2017:

Mama T

How is your daughter doing? Her voice should be in top form by now. If not, let me know. Thanks.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 10, 2017:


You are most likely well by now. At least I hope so. In the future when you sing or speak use correct breathing (from the diaphragm). This will keep you from vocal chord damage. Thanks.

MamaT on September 13, 2016:

My daughter is a teacher. 5 months ago she had vocal cord polyps removed. She did strict voice rest for 2 weeks and had to go back to teaching. She uses a portable microphone and speaker to project her voice. She has also seen a voice therapist and does the exercises that were give to her but she is still having hoarseness. It seems that her voice is almost back to where it was before the surger at times then gets a little better then gets hoarse again. We have an appt to go back to the ontarynologist (sp?) in a couple weeks but very concerned that her voice is not coming back after having those polyps removed.

Jasmine on July 20, 2016:

I have had pain on the left side of my throat (possibly vocal cords) whenever I talk or swallow. I sung when I had a cold, and have obviously strained it or done something. I've had this pain for the last four days, but only started to completely rest it yesterday.

I woke up tonight in more pain when I swallow (I think silent reflux is making it worse).

Please help. I am seeing an ENT soon but I don't know how else to deal with it other than rest, limit swallowing (any movement that stretches it seems to aggravate it) and avoid talking.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 05, 2015:

mary615 - Vocal strain is the biggest cause of polyps. Your daughter must be sure to use proper breath control when singing. Sometimes just resting the voice will cure the problem. No whispering!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 09, 2015:

I have a daughter who sings professionally, but her voice bothers her. I think she has strained her voice singing too loud and too high. Modern singers like to scream!

She won't see a doctor because she is convinced she has nodules and woul need surgery.

Joyce2015 on March 02, 2015:

Hi coach i overused my voice and got damage. as i sang too high and too loud after a week i notice hoarse and my voice loss in hi range. when i speak it is normal but when i sing ther is so bassy and hoarse voice no treble and nasally at all. it;s been more than a month and now i am resting my voice 100%. will it be back ?? how long i have to rest??

Matthew on February 20, 2015:

Hi im 18 years old I had some Mucus , Phlegm on my throat its been 4 days now i have been clearing my throat with honey and lemon and also taking parecetmol and have not sang since then my voice sound raspy and thin when i talk is it all because of not resting my voice i i have been singing quite loudly If i rest my voice will the it go away?

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on January 22, 2015:


Thank you for visiting here. I'm sorry to hear about your cough. I recommend that you see your doctor and ask for a prescribed cough syrup.

I doubt that coughing will cause vocal nodes so please don't be concerned about this.

Dear Ethan,

It sounds like it's time for you to see a specialist. You are passionate about singing and need to be reassured that your voice will return. I'd be interested in hearing what your diagnosis is.

I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks. Audrey

Singsingsing1234 on January 20, 2015:


I just revisited your article, and I have anouther question. Lately I have been sick with the flu, and I have almost recovered, except for one thing; my cough. I have a dry cough triggered by a tickly feeling in my throat, and I am afraid this will tigger vocal nodules/ a polyp. My throat is really sore and hoarse from coughing, and obviously it is hard to sing. But, the urge to cough is really bad. What do you suggest to do, vocal rest, or what?

Ethan James on January 19, 2015:

I'm sorry I forgot to give you some details on my symptoms....The most obvious was my range was effected, I can no longer sing as high, my voice is always scratchy and hoarse , and I don't have much stamina if I can manage to muster up some quality singing..I also don't know if this has anything to do with anything but my sense of taste and smell keeps coming and going from week to week, it's weird.

Ethan James on January 19, 2015:

Thankyou for your Wisdom. .

I am an Artist by trade and passion. I struggled with drugs early on in my career (18-25) I also smoked heavily. I made the best decision of my life to get sober about four years ago, but continued to smoke, I gradually noticed my voice starting to get weaker and weaker and it was harder and harder to sing..I was able to quit smoking FINALLY about 8 months ago..but my voice doesn't seem to be improving. I am unable to perform and I desperately need advice/help music is my entire life force and without the ability to perform and entertain, I feel empty and useless. Will I ever get my voice back? do you think it would be proactive to visit an ear nose and throat doctor? Please help me.

Peace & Love,


Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 12, 2014:


You can not push your voice to extreme without damaging it. The fact that you've already had polyps shows that you must stop 'over-singing'.

The voice is not meant to be abused. I highly recommend you sing with proper vocal technique, especially when it comes to breathing. I wish you all the best. Thanks for being here. vocalcoach

Simon Reinikainen on September 07, 2014:

Hi there coach! :)

Simon here, 25. I got a nasty polyp..

Im Working as a professional singer in Stockolm, Sweden. I've been singing my whole life and my repertoar, that I make my living of stretches from all the great jazz to even Rage Against the Machine (screaming)...

I do around 150 gigs/year and I have had problems for some years and turned out it was a polyp. Now it is removed.. However my other vocal cord has been getting lots of damage because of the "hits" from the polyp on the other side. I'm in recovery now for a month.

And, as we speak, on my way to get a humidifier...

I'm really concerned of doing this recovery right! My question is:

How can I get back to singing my full repertoar which includes some pushing the voice to its extremes...?

I mean.. It is possible to maintain the cords and still sing, high and at some points distorted...??

Awaiting your answer.. I reeally want to get back to my falsetto and all the smooth singing (which has been totally lost for some time)

Thx/ Simon

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 01, 2014:

Owl Geek

Thanks for being here and for reading my article about Vocal Nodules, Nodes. To answer your question, it sounds to me like you need more air to support your singing. Just before you start to sing, be sure to take a big enough breath to last through the first phrase. Continue to do this with each phrase. When you

sing with a weak breath, your voice may crack. I don't think you have vocal nodules at this point.

Owl Geek on August 31, 2014:

Hi! I love singing but when I sing high notes I sound really hoarse or my voice cracks. Does this mean I might have vocal cord nodules? Thanks.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 10, 2014:


Unless I hear you sing, I cannot give you a firm diagnosis. However, from what you've told me, I doubt if you have vocal nodes. It's more likely that you aren't using enough air when you sing. This will put a strain on your vocal cords and also your vocal range will decrease. I suggest that you email me to get further help. Thank you - vocalcoach

Singsingsing 1234 on August 09, 2014:


I am an actress who is currently in two musicals right now, one of which is very heavy in musical numbers. My voice has been feeling rather fatigued, although I make sure to warm up every night before performing. I am finding it a bit hard to hit high notes. I do drink lots of water and stay away from dairy products before shows. Also, my voice feels a bit breathy, but the symptoms are relatively new, only about 3-4 days. I am concerned that I may be developing a "voice disorder" but I don't want to see a doctor just yet, and I'm not sure if I'm just overreacting on a little bit of vocal fatigue. I am only 14, and I would be absolutly devastated if I couldn't sing. It is all I look forward to, and it feels as natural as breathing to me. Please, what do you think I should do? Could I be developing nodes?

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on May 12, 2014:

Bella - I would attend choir but avoid singing. Explain to the director what is going on and he will understand.

Also, using steam is very helpful for a damaged voice. Boil water and turn down heat. With a towel draped over your head, inhale the steam being careful not to burn your face.

In the future, when you sing, be sure you are breathing properly by using the diaphragmatic muscle. This will prevent further vocal abuse. If you need help, I have a CD on how to breathe for singing. Thank you - Audrey Hunt

Bella on May 11, 2014:

A few days ago, I noticed my voice was reallllyy tired, but I couldn't rest it as I was performing that day. That was on Wednesday. I'm in my local chior, so have taken to doing vocal excersises of my own accord. Last night, I noticed that my throat felt like it had ash in it, so today, I went to my doctor to get a referral to see a local ENT in Penrith when I can get there, problem is, my mother won't take me! I have cerebral Palsy, meaning she is my primary carer. Tried to rest my voice as much as I possibly can, and it seems to feel better if I have honey tea and get a lot of sleep. Mum doesn't understand the concept f total vocal rest, so 100% rest is neigh impossible. BTW, should I go to chior this week? Hate missing it!!! :(

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on May 08, 2014:

kamran - I'm wondering if you have a gum disease issue or even a tooth with decay. There are many causes of bad breath. Go to - conditions/bad-breath/basics/causes and you will find good information to help you. I wish you luck and please let me know how you are doing. vocalcoach

kamran on May 08, 2014:

Thank u for ur response,i am not a singer,i had tried a lot of things like parsley, clove & every thing which peoples suggest but unfortunately my bad breath did not goes,please help me to tackle this issue

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 30, 2014:

kamran - chewing parsley is very effective for bad breath. Rinse it well before eating it.

whathappened - You are straining your voice. Be sure to use proper breath support when singing. Breath by inflating the abdominal wall as you take a breath.

steph - the higher you sing the more breath support you need. Be sure to increase your intake of air before you sing.

kamran on April 29, 2014:

i have continues bad breath problem ,i have done sinus surgery aout 4 months ago,i have diagnoses that my vocal fold is red & has swelling in left sift side fold,which is from last 2 months,can u suggest me something to do with this issue,i will be greatfull

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 03, 2014:

Mary, Yorkshire - I recomment that you see an Otolaryngologest (a throat specialist.) This is the only way to confirm whether or not you have nodules on your vocal cords. Because you are a singer you want an expert opinion. Good luck to you and thank you.

Mary, Yorkshire on March 03, 2014:

Hi! I am wondering if I have vocal nodules or polyps. I do a lot of classical singing, some professional (although it is not my main profession). Recently, I have started to find that my voice is not at all reliable. I can sing well one day but by the next day it feels hoarse and, at times, I feel like I have a lump in my throat. Do you think this could be nodules, even though after days of rest I can still have good days?? Thanks in advance for your advice!

WhatHappened on February 24, 2014:

Hi! I am 13 years old and i love to sing (I sing every day) and a few days ago I was just warming up my voice as usually and then I sang (not for a very long time). After I finished, my throat started to hurt and I still feel the pain. I'm taking a break from singing (i'm relaxing my throat) but I'm worried...What happened? Can you please give me some advice? I really want to sing again. Thank you :)

Steph on February 22, 2014:

Hi! I hope you can help me! Im a 13 year old girl. I tried whistle tones/ registers andni can do it but in the morning before I tried I had a really sore throat after doing this it got worse. Do I probably have nodes?

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 09, 2013:

Make sure you are breathing from the abdominal area. Breathing diaphragmatically is crucial for preventing your symptoms. Thanks.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 09, 2013:

Jenny - You might be okay. I sure hope so. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes. Wishing you all the best.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 09, 2013:

Thank you for being here. Appreciate your comments.

Bingu on November 05, 2013:

I've been experiencing this pain it's not actually in the throat but below the jaw or the upper section of my neck and it suffers from pain whenever I talk so much and when I sing. It started after I really shouted hard because I was cheering my classmates on their basketball game. I shouted so loud and high. I think more than 5 times. And it become hoarse for less than a month. (I dunno if it's still hoarse but when I tred singing again it becomes cracky. BTW I drank cold water right after that shouting incident) Is it possible that it's a nodes or just a muscle pain? I'm a member of glee club and I'm a soprano. We sang in F and G key that time. It does hurt much when I'm actually singing specially right after.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on October 28, 2013:

Ranjit - I'm sorry about your vocal cord problem. I've worked with this type of case before and I would have to say yes, you will recover and sing again. But it all depends on how severe your case is. Work closely with your doctor and do just as he says, I can't predict how long it will take for you to recover as all cases are different. In the future, do not strain your voice by over-singing. Use good breath support and technique. I wish you well. Audrey

Ranjit on October 27, 2013:

Thank you very much for the information and also the hope that your article provides....I am a great music fan and have been playing the piano as well as recently begun to learn Indian classical singing....however, I have been smoking for the last 5 years intermittently...I am 32...Recently, I suffered from a sudden onset of vocal cord paralysis...I was at University and there were couple of students sitting close to me with a bad cold...I think I got the cold from then and sneezed twice, after which I wasunable to swallow or even talk with enough volume for rest of the day...I was consulting a general practitioner for a week but since the condition did not change, I went to an ENT...he took an internal look and diagnosed me for vocal cord paresis...I am on antibiotics, light steroids and anti-alergics for the next 7 days...he has advised complete voice rest...not eveneso much as a hum or clearing my throat...I am already feeling better in terms of the inflammation subsiding in my throat...but do you think I will recover ecompletely from this much time would it take and will i be able to sing again?

Jenny on September 21, 2013:

Thanks for your response. I'm still having trouble even with my speaking voice, so I'm finally going to see a doctor on Monday. I don't have insurance (never get sick!), which is why I've been putting it off. I'm hoping it's not nodes or polyps but I guess that's wishful thinking, given that I've been hoarse-ish for over a month now. :(

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 17, 2013:

Hi Jenny - I advise you to see your doctor. The sooner you do, the better. If you do have nodules - rest may be all you need but the doctor will know.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 17, 2013:

As far as my knowledge goes I would have to say no. Only if you've been shouting, yelling or talking excessively. Don't be scared. See your doctor to ease your mind and determine if you do have nodes.

Erin on August 29, 2013:

Good article, but the title is misleading.

Jenny on August 25, 2013:

Thanks for this article, very informative!

I was trying to cover this Kelly Clarkson song, lost track of time and ended up practicing the hardest chorus for over 12 hours, pretty much non-stop. I was so focused on the task that I didn't even have water in between. When I finally noticed the time, warnings about nodules came to mind, so I stopped immediately and decided to rest my folds for a couple of days. Tried to speak and sing a soft song the third day and felt immediate irritation, so resorted back to silence. Other than trying a few sentences intermittently to see how my vocal folds are doing, I was mostly silent for a little over two weeks. Finally spoke a fair bit 4 days ago and then again the last couple of days and still find my throat feels sore on the very first word out of my mouth. No pain, it feels more like an abrasion and it kind of radiates. Very worried now, please advise. Thank you.

Me on August 23, 2013:

Is it possible to get nodes from stress, anxiety, or NOT singing? I have barely sung this summer and I guess I've been experiencing some stress but it CANNOT be from misuse or over using the voice. I literally have not sung this entire summer. Like a little bit in the shower and in the house but I didn't perform this summer at all. (Minus a few gigs here and there which I sounded perfectly fine on. This has only been happening for a few weeks now) Ugh I'm so scared...

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 14, 2013:

Jess -

Thanks for reading this. Your problem sounds to me like it's about breathing. I've written an article about Breath Control.

You are straining your voice. Learn diaphragmatic breathing and you should soon see results.

Jess on August 14, 2013:

Hi, great article! I'm 16 years old, and a training soprano, but have been having issues with my throat. The past few months, it has been very vulnerable, and has been getting sore very easily. A few weeks ago I screamed twice, but stayed silent for two days after. I have been trying to keep away from making noise as much as possible, but now it seems that every time I talk, or sing, it hurts basically straight away. It's really affecting me, so if you have any ideas of what to do, or what could be wrong, I would greatly appreciate your help!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on May 01, 2013:

I really don't think, based on what you've shared with me, that you have permanent damage to your vocal folds (chords.) I highly recomment that you see an Otolaryngologist (throat specialist,) to have an examination of your vocal bands. Until it has been established one way or the other of any damage I am not comfortable giving you advice.

I will tell you, however, that in most cases of vocal abuse or damage, your voice can be restored. It all depends on exactly what the damage is. This is why you must have yourself looked at by a specialist.

Please let me know what your diagnoses is and I wish you well.

Rob on April 30, 2013:

Hi there. I need some advice. I am being completely honest here, so I ask that you please don't judge me. I am currently 21, and I am currently majoring in Communication (Media specifically), because I want to work in TV/Radio broadcasting as a presenter. I smoked cigarettes for about a year and a half of my life (not every day, only about a pack every 3-4 weeks, sometimes less) when I was 18 and completely stopped cigarettes when I was almost 20. Now again, please don't judge here..but due to being diagnosed with severe anxiety, the only thing that would calm me down was smoking marijuana. I smoked marijuana regularly for about 4 years. I recently stopped about a month ago because I had started to feel a stinging/burning pain in my vocal cord (it would hurt only when I speak). At 21 years old now, I've finally realized to stop being an idiot and quit smoking because of how important my voice is to me and my future. But I wanted to ask, how many years of smoking does it take to cause permanent damage to your voice? I'm really hoping its not permanent damage. It's not a severe stinging pain when I talk, it's just very bothersome, and I have notice a minor difference in the quality of my voice. Do you think it could just be a nodule? Do you think it's permanent damage? Please help. Again, I know I was stupid for smoking (both cigarettes and marijuana), but I'm so done with that now. I just want my perfect quality voice back.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 17, 2013:

Refrain from trying to hit the higher notes for now. If the tone is raspy or you feel any gripping in the throat, stop singing higher tones. Thanks.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 17, 2013:

Bemni - Your vocal bands (folds, cords) have not fully recovered from your illness. Take it easy for a while and don't force your singing. Keep your dynamics to mf or mp and bathe your throat with lemon tea and honey. Limit all dairy and increase your air to support your tone when singing.

I'm impressed that at 14 you have such a mature attitude. Wonderful!

Bemni on April 17, 2013:

Oh and also despite this my friends say they can't hear it. But I can! It's more of a strain to hit those notes...

Bemni on April 17, 2013:

Hi! I'm 14 and over the winter I got sick a lot and my voice had a lot of mucus but I sang fine. Now for a week my cold is finally gone and though I can hit my highest range my voice sounds a bit raspy in my high mid range. Is this worth talking to my chorus teacher about or are my vocal cords just healing?

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 21, 2012:

Shonahal - I'm sorry to hear about your problems with nodes. What a terrible thing to have to give up your teaching. I wish you the best with your Doctors appointment. Congratulations on stopping the smoking!

Sarah on November 21, 2012:

I'm 12 years old and I have been singing a lot, but not proffessionally.So, I don't know if I am using a correct vocal technique. However,I cannot screm in a high pitched tone and I'm getting slightly worried that I might have vocal nodes.

Archer on October 28, 2012:

I'm an aspiring classical singer, and my voice is still developing as a soprano (as it should...I'm a teenager.) After 2 and a half hour choir practices, my throat will become sore. I might just be paranoid, but I'm a part of three choirs and an acapella group (only one of which focuses on the classical stuff, and for which I am a very top soprano.) Is it really just paranoia, or am I overusing my voice, and is there a chance that I might have nodes? I very rarely scream or yell. For one of my choirs I'm an alto. It's the classical choir that's causing me stress, although none of my friends who have been in it all of their lives have ever gotten nodes, and none of the graduates ever got nodes.

Thank you very much.

Shonahal818747 on October 28, 2012:

Hi, I had nodules 14 yrs ago and they have returned with avengance. I am a dance, singing and drama teacher. I had them removed last time as voice therapy never worked for me. I am seeing dr on Friday for consult and hoping that it is just nodules :-) I have had to employ another singing teacher to take my classes, I teach every night. Bit scared! X keep you all posted. Oh and I stopped smoking 9 yrs ago :-) x

Chuck on September 10, 2012:

I didn't know that clearing your throat was not good. I'll remember that because it affects my voice and I do drink plenty of water while I sing. I've been singing for years, just not professionally. haha

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 15, 2012:

simplyfloetik - I would like to help you but this is not the place. I may be contacted through my email Thank you for reading this article. Just remember that breathing correctly is the key to great singing. I do have an article on that subject here at hubpages.

ssomeguy - I suggest you see an otolaryngologest to be absolutely certain.

Thanks for your comments.

yenni - I am not a Doctor and you must stick with your own doctor and do exactly what he/she tells you to do. I'm surprised that he would tell you to see a vocal coach at this stage. That's ususally recommended when vocal therapy is needed.

Frank - I would advise you to see a throat specialist at this point. I doubt that there is any permanent damage but you want to be sure. At any rate, complete vocal rest will give the vocal chords time to heal. Thanks.

simplyFloetik on August 14, 2012:

I have all of the listed probems and my throat is hurting non stop plus i have a vocal performance in about a week what should i do? Please help singing is my life and i don't want those it.

ssome guy on July 19, 2012:

Good job on the post but i still don't know how i know that i got vocal nodes ;o?

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 14, 2012:

Kim - Who diagnosed you with a callouse on your voice box? You must make an appointment to see a specialist - an otolaryangologist He will tell you if you need to have it removed or not. Don't delay!

Kim on June 14, 2012:

I have A callous on my voice box . How can i ,or can i reverse the growth ?

Yenni on May 04, 2012:

Hey Im 15 and Im wondering....My throat doctor told me I had nodules and that I needed to rest my voice and he was going to see me in 3 months, if it hadn't got better then he was going to send me to a vocal coach. Well anyway do you have anything you can recommend me to do or take care of my voice? How long can it take to get better?

And is there anyway I can know when my nodules went away?

Frank on May 03, 2012:

I've been singing for years...all has been well. On march 20th of this year I was cornered by an angry pit bull and had to yell at it to make it back off. I yelled for perhaps 3 minutes. I yelled violently. Lost my upper range. Rested my voice for three weeks. Now it's six weeks later and though my highest range has come back but the mid range is a bit raspy no matter what I do. Does this mean I have nodules or do bruised vocal cords take longer than this to heal. This is a nightmare.

Phoenix on April 13, 2012:

Loved the article it really opened my eyes about many things i took for granted. I play in a rock band and I abuse my voice a lot and smoke a lot too and I have gotten sore at times it takes me like 4 days to recover but after reading this article Im going to make some changes to prevent my soreness.. Thanks for the article I loved it and will read it again in the future..

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 10, 2012:

keeah ~ If you are a singer and serious about your voice, I suggest you see an otolarengologist. The sooner you have your throat evaluated the better. If it's not serious, you may just need to rest your voice. I wish you the best and let me know how things turn out.

KeeahJaffa on April 10, 2012:

I looked at your symptoms... and i have them all. What should i do??

Bryan... on February 14, 2012:

doesn't let me know how I can tell

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on January 14, 2011:

Dear Micky - The only sound that I would hear coming from you is love. The rest of the time, all I would hear is the sound of Micky and Audrey singing along with Al Green. You're the best!

Micky Dee on January 14, 2011:

I wish you were next door to help me sing. But then, you'd probably move away from the noise!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on October 08, 2010:

Hi Leni - I have not heard of the term "clicking" before as it applies to the vocal cords. I suspect tho, that it is, as you say, from strain or overuse. I am interested in your voice and will send you a message. Thanks, leni. So great that you enjoy singing so much.

Leni Sands from UK on October 08, 2010:

Great hub. Really interesting article. I've been singing for years and apart from remembering all the words these days (must be my age) I don't seem to have too many problems. In recent years, however, I do get a sort of 'click' in my throat which throws me off occasionally and I have had quite a few sore throats.

I don't sing from the throat (or through the nose), I sing from the diaphram as one should. I have been singing since the day I first opened my mouth as a baby. I have been singing in public since I gatecrashed my big sisters dance debut when I was about 3 years old (singing the songs she practiced her dance to). Singing is the only thing (next to writing) that makes me happy. I have had some coaching in the past and will probably find another vocal coach soon because hopefully I want to sing until I take my last breath.

The 'click' appeared while I was teaching so it could have something to do with straining the vocal chords to get my message across to the kids. I am not teaching anymore and the 'click' isn't there as often usually when I am a bit run down or have a cold. This click has somewhat affected my confidence. Could this be a nodule or something, do you think?

I look forward to reading more of your hubs.

BenjaminB on October 01, 2010:

I have long feared I have polyps as my voice just suddenly took a nose dive on range and longevity. I no longer sing anymore except once in a blue moon but miss the times when i could sing for hours on end and never miss a note which is probably why I have polyps in the first place if indeed I do,lol.

Great hub here VocalCoach,well articulated you have gained a new fan!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 10, 2010:

Nicole Winter - Thank you for reading and commenting on my hub. First off - vocal polyps do not cause a cough to the singer. Some typical symptoms can be - a change in the speaking voice (going from a clear sound to a "hoarse" sound). A sudden decrease in vocal range may or may not be a symptom. The throat hurting during or after singing can also be a symptom. I understand that you do not want to see a specialist, however, that is the only way to know for sure. I would guess, that if your speaking voice has not changed, you are ok. The thickness that you refer to, can be due to just not vocalizing as much as you have been in the past. I am in the process of writing an in-depth hub about the vocal cords. Look for it as I think after meeting you on HP, you may be interested in it. Thanks again Nicole and keep in touch.

Nicole A. Winter from Chicago, IL on September 10, 2010:

vocalcoach: I've been trying to quit smoking for a couple of years now, (obviously, I know I need to, that's not the point of my comment,) and I'm wondering if it's possible to discern whether or not I have polyps on my vocal cords? Without going to a doctor that is... symptoms? I sang for... ugh... close to fifteen years, professional voice coach, at least a couple of hours a day, then quit when I started smoking. I notice you mention smoking could be a cause of vocal cord polyps... in your professional opinion... do they generally produce the same set of symptoms as a typical smokers cough? I've noticed this last year my throat feels a lot... uhm, thicker, would be the word, I guess. I still can easily project from my diaphragm and continue to sing, (secretly in the car and shower ;) and it seems like this last year I can still hold the same notes I've been able to for the last 10-12 years, but I'm not getting as much power as I used to... any advice or considerations? (Other than to quit smoking, which I appreciate, but am already working on.) I already do many of the things mentioned in the article, while I do drink a lot of caffeinated beverages I make sure to level it out with lots of water, I take care to maintain a steady speaking voice and really TRY not to yell too much... (with an eight year old at home that isn't as easily said as done...) if I'll be using my voice a lot I won't eat or drink dairy as well, because it tends to make my voice feel *really* thick. Love the article, again, thanks for publishing this vocalcoach!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on September 04, 2010:

Katie - Your talent knows no bounds. A drama teacher too.

We share a common link, as I teach acting for camera. What a team we would make. :-) Thank you dear one for leaving such a nice comment. You are really something!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on September 04, 2010:

What fascinating information regarding 3 signs you have vocal cords in trouble, this is news to me and I'm so glad to be informed. Thank you for educating us on this matter of Nodules, I've taught Drama for years and when working with 30 plus student in a production... you tend to yell or speak really loud, projecting a LOT!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 30, 2010:

PegCole17 - So nice to meet you this way. I, too, will be visiting your hubs and commenting. Thank you Peg. Looking forward to learning more about you. My very best!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on August 30, 2010:

Good advice here for singers and non singers. Looking forward to reading more hubs from you.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 01, 2010:

cmcastro - I am so pleased to hear that you do not smoke. I'll bet you have a beautiful voice to match the person that you are. Thanks for your comment. Appreciate it very much.

Christina M. Castro from Baltimore,MD USA on August 01, 2010:

I cherish the vocal chords that God gave me. The best thing is I have never cared for smoking and even though I do admit trying it a few times, I will never again because I never want to stop singing!:)

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 16, 2010:

yellowstar2000 - Ha, Ha, Ha. Love your comment. Still laughing! Thanks so much.

Candice Collins from WestCoast Florida on July 16, 2010:

I never even heard of this before, thanks for helping me learn something new today!

and as for ever becoming a singer/or using my voice a lot for work; thank goodness I'll not have to do that as I love ice cream, coffee and other things you've listed as a big no-no...

it's good there are so many others who have talent in this area as if it were up to me we'd all be doomed! thanks for another well done hub!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on June 27, 2010:

Thank you Green Lotus for your comment.I have actually had male singers ask me to help them abuse their voices in order to sing with a "Rod Stewart" type of sound. I love Rod, but had to say no. :-)

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on June 27, 2010:

Cool hub VC! I've know a few folks who have had polyps removed from their vocal cords. They were actors who knew how to "project" but not how to "breathe"! Other friends of mine, (heavy smokers) have developed deep voices. Not very sexy.

Related Articles