Thyroid & Vocal Cord Conditions
The thyroid gland, located at the front of the neck, is critical for many basic functions of the human body — it produces hormones which regulate metabolism.
Nodules can develop in the thyroid gland, which are often silent and discovered incidentally, though some are noticed as a lump in the neck, or can cause difficulty swallowing or breathing. Most thyroid nodules are benign, but up to 10% can be malignant (cancerous), requiring biopsy and possibly thyroid surgery. Fortunately, the majority of thyroid cancers can be cured with surgery alone, or in combination with radioactive iodine.
Thyroidectomy is the surgical removal of part or all of the thyroid, and is indicated for various reasons, including nodules that are suspected of being cancerous, an enlarging thyroid gland (known as a goiter), a thyroid nodule that is producing too much hormone, or in cases involving inflammatory or autoimmune thyroid diseases.
Vocal Cord Conditions
The vocal cords are two bands of smooth muscle tissue located in the larynx, which is located at the top of the windpipe. Vocal cords produce sound by vibrating as air passes through the vocal cords from the lungs. Each person’s unique voice is determined by the size and shape of the vocal cords, throat, nose, and mouth.
Vocal cord disorders are often caused by vocal abuse or misuse, such as excessive use of voice when singing, talking, yelling, smoking, or coughing. Common vocal cord disorders include laryngitis (raspy or hoarse voice due to vocal cord inflammation), vocal nodules (noncancerous callous growths on the vocal cords resulting from vocal abuse such as professional singing, resulting in hoarse and raspy voice), vocal polyps (noncancerous soft growths on the vocal cords, resulting in hoarse and raspy voice), and vocal cord paralysis (vocal cords failing to function properly, resulting from many various conditions, with seriousness of the paralysis ranging from relatively mild to life-threatening).
Vocal cord disorders caused by abuse or misuse are frequently preventable or reversible. Treatments include resting the voice, modifying or eliminating behavior abusing or misusing the vocal cords, referral to a speech-language pathologist, medication, and surgery to remove growths.