Health A-Z

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Prevention

To help prevent disorders caused by vocal abuse (including laryngitis, vocal cord nodes and polyps, and contact ulcers), you need to learn how to talk without straining your vocal cords. A voice therapist can teach you how to do this. Look for a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in voice.

To prevent disorders related to acid reflux (including contact ulcers and laryngitis), see your doctor to treat the reflux. Medications can help to control stomach acid. Lifestyle changes also help some people. Changes include:

  • Eating smaller meals to avoid overfilling the stomach

  • Not eating or snacking three to four hours before sleeping to make sure all food is well digested before you lie flat

  • Raising the head of your bed a few inches to keep your head and upper chest higher than your stomach

  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, fatty foods, chocolate and peppermint, which may trigger heartburn

To help prevent vocal cord disorders caused by irritation (including laryngitis and vocal cord polyps), avoid smoking, drinking or inhaling chemical irritants. To help prevent vocal cord cancer, quit smoking and limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages.

If you use an inhaled corticosteroid medicine to treat asthma or other lung disease, you may be able to prevent vocal cord muscle weakness. Use a spacer device that catches large medicine droplets too heavy to be carried deep into your lung airways. These large droplets can otherwise settle in your throat and trachea, where they can cause side effects.

If you have viral laryngitis, cover your mouth when coughing and wash your hands often to prevent others from getting your infection.

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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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