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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Expected Duration

  • Vocal cord nodules If you don't do anything to change your vocal cord abuse, nodules can last a lifetime. They can even come back after they are surgically removed. With proper voice training with a certified therapist, nodules can disappear within six to 12 weeks.

  • Vocal cord polyps With rest, some vocal cord polyps will go away on their own within a few weeks. Most, however, have to be removed surgically.

  • Contact ulcers It can take a long time for contact ulcers to heal. Some doctors recommend resting your voice for a minimum of six weeks. If the ulcers are caused by acid reflux, the reflux problem must be treated to keep your vocal cords healthy.

  • Laryngitis Laryngitis caused by a viral infection usually goes away within one to three weeks. Laryngitis from vocal abuse usually goes away on its own in a few days with voice rest.

  • Vocal cord tumors Noncancerous tumors generally do not go away. They must be removed surgically. Cancerous tumors must be treated immediately to prevent the cancer from spreading. Untreated cancer of the larynx leads to death.

  • Vocal cord paresis or paralysis In some cases, the voice returns on its own within a year. If not, the condition is likely to be permanent. Surgery may be done to try to improve speech.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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