MSD Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Vocal Cord Contact Ulcers

By

Clarence T. Sasaki

, MD, Yale University School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Jan 2020| Content last modified Jan 2020
Click here for the Professional Version
Topic Resources

Vocal cord contact ulcers are raw sores on the mucous membrane covering the cartilage to which the vocal cords are attached.

Vocal cord contact ulcers are usually caused by abusing the voice with forceful speech, particularly as a person starts to speak. These ulcers typically occur in singers, teachers, preachers, sales representatives, lawyers, and other people whose occupation requires them to talk or otherwise use their voice a lot. Vocal cord contact ulcers can develop into granulomas (collections of immune cells caused by inflammation).

Endotracheal intubation (insertion of a plastic breathing tube through the mouth or nose into the windpipe such as may be done during general anesthesia) may cause vocal cord contact ulcers if the tube is too big.

Did You Know...

  • Gastroesophageal reflux of stomach acid can cause ulcers to form on the vocal cords.

Symptoms include mild pain while speaking or swallowing and varying degrees of hoarseness.

Diagnosis of Vocal Cord Contact Ulcers

  • Direct inspection with a viewing tube

  • Occasionally biopsy

A doctor makes the diagnosis of vocal cord contact ulcers by examining the vocal cords with a thin, flexible viewing tube (laryngoscopy).

Occasionally, a small tissue sample is removed and examined under a microscope (biopsy) to make sure that the ulcers are not cancerous (malignant) and are not caused by tuberculosis.

Treatment of Vocal Cord Contact Ulcers

  • Resting the voice

  • Voice therapy

  • For gastroesophageal reflux, taking antacids, not eating near bedtime, and elevating the head of the bed

  • Sometimes, antibiotics

Treatment of vocal cord contact ulcers involves resting the voice by talking as little as possible for at least 6 weeks so that the ulcers can heal. Whispering may cause further injury and must also be avoided.

To avoid recurrences, people who develop contact ulcers need voice therapy to learn how to use the voice properly. A speech therapist can provide such instruction.

Treatment of gastroesophageal reflux Treatment In gastroesophageal reflux disease, stomach contents, including acid and bile, flow backward from the stomach into the esophagus, causing inflammation in the esophagus and pain in the bottom... read more Treatment helps vocal cord contact ulcers. Measures typically include taking antacids, not eating within 2 hours of retiring for the night, and keeping the head of the bed elevated while sleeping.

Antibiotics can help prevent bacterial infections while the ulcers are healing.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Others also read
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Test your knowledge

Vocal Cord Paralysis
Vocal cord paralysis is the inability to move the muscles that control the vocal cords. Paralysis may affect one or both vocal cords. Paralysis of both vocal cords is life-threatening. Of the following, which is most likely to be a cause of paralysis of both vocal cords? 
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
TOP