Photo by Pixomar

Grammy Award winner and platinum vocal artist Adele underwent vocal cord surgery in October 2011 to alleviate recurrent hemorrhaging caused by a benign polyp on her vocal cord. Polyps, nodules, and cysts, collectively known as lesions, on the vocal cord is one of the most common causes of voice problems and can occur within or alongside the covering of the vocal cord. While the causes of vocal cord lesions is unknown, they are most often observed in people who excessively or improperly use their voice while speaking, screaming, yelling, during illness, or, in the case of Adele, singing.

Vocal cord lesions can vary greatly in size and severity. Some common symptoms of benign polyps, nodules, and cysts include prolonged hoarseness or scratchiness in the voice, a change in voice quality or pitch, frequent need to clear one’s throat, and a noticeable increase of force needed to “find” or use one’s voice.

Persistent voice or throat problems should be looked at by a doctor. The otolaryngologist will likely pass a camera with a light source into the patient’s throat to observe vocal fold vibrations and visible signs of lesions. A period of vocal rest might be recommended and follow-up exams scheduled. If a diagnosis of benign lesions is made, treatment includes voice rest, voice therapy, and microsurgery. Adele’s physician recommended microsurgery, followed by an extended period of vocal rest. Treatments can vary highly by the individual and it’s best to work with your otolaryngologist if you are experiencing voice problems.


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