Common vocal cord disorders

Some of the more common vocal cord disorders are listed here.  If you have experienced hoarseness or pain for more than two weeks, see your doctor.


Laryngitis causes a raspy or hoarse voice due to inflammation of the vocal cords. Laryngitis can be caused by excessive use of the voice, infections, inhaled irritants, or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD, or heartburn).

Vocal nodules  

Vocal nodules are noncancerous growths on the vocal cords caused by vocal abuse. Vocal nodules are often a problem for professional singers. The nodules are small and callous-like. They most often grow in pairs (one on each cord). The nodules most often form on parts of the vocal cords that get the most pressure when the cords come together and vibrate. Vocal nodules cause the voice to be hoarse, low, and breathy.

Vocal polyps     

A vocal polyp is a soft, noncancerous growth, similar to a blister. Voice polyps cause the voice to be hoarse, low, and breathy.

Vocal cord paralysis       

Paralysis of the vocal cords may happen when one or both vocal cords doesn’t open or close properly. A common disorder, this condition can range from relatively mild to life-threatening. When one or both vocal cords are paralyzed, food or liquids can slip into the trachea and lungs. A person may have trouble swallowing and coughing. Treatment may include surgery and voice therapy. Sometimes, no treatment is necessary and a person recovers on his or her own.