Preventing Benign Vocal Cord Lesions

Even if your job requires talking for hours every day, there are steps you can take to protect your vocal cords and avoid developing a lesion. Every person’s vocal cords are unique and therefore have a different threshold for damage. NYU Langone doctors recommend a variety of simple ways to protect your voice.

Rest and Hydration

The simplest action to prevent benign vocal cord lesions is to rest your voice. After several hours of talking or singing, take a break to let your voice recover. 

It also helps to drink water throughout the day to keep vocal cords hydrated. Dry vocal cords are more likely to become inflamed, which can cause irritation that may lead to a lesion.

Moderate Speaking Volume

Yelling, screaming, and periods of talking loudly cause the vocal cords to collide with more force, increasing the chances of irritation. Try to maintain a moderate speaking volume and avoid competing with a loud environment. Speaking loud enough to be heard over an arriving subway, live music, industrial equipment, or a crowded bar can put stress on your vocal cords.

Behavior Modification

Some common behaviors, like smoking and drinking alcohol, can have negative effects on the vocal cords. Smoking can make vocal cords dry and irritated, which can lead to inflammation. Alcohol causes dehydration and may block the pain signals that indicate irritation, prompting you to continue talking or singing even though your voice needs rest. 

Learn more about how NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs can help you. 

Avoid Voice Strain

If your voice is weak or hoarse from an illness, such as laryngitis, it can be tempting to compensate by straining to speak or attempting loud whispering, but this can lead to damaged vocal cords. Our specialists recommend that you rest your voice as much as possible until it returns to normal.

If you hear any unusual noise in your voice—for example, a raspy or gravelly sound—an NYU Langone doctor can evaluate your vocal cords to check for a lesion and, if one is discovered, recommend effective treatment options. 

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