One of the top stars of the popular show Big Bang Theory, Mayim Bialik, has been given an unusual prescription of treatment by her doctors because of vocal cord damage. The actress is not supposed to speak for an entire month, which could be a significant obstacle in her occupation.

In an Instagram and YouTube message delivered through a sign language interpreter, Mayim Bialik said the problem actually started two years ago. Over time, the damage to her vocal cords got worse, requiring this current ‘word diet’.

Various news venues are making much of the actress’s dilemma. A Washington Times report claims Bialik “blew out” her vocal cords, while noting that no one has provided specific details of the injury to the public. In related press photos, Bialik appears to be patient and humorous about her condition, saying her boyfriend is “thrilled” about the doctor’s recommendation of silence.

Strained Vocal Cords: Vocal Cord Damage from an ENT’s Perspective

One thing that ENTs commonly look at is vocal cord damage. These two muscular bands of tissue inside the larynx can get strained or otherwise damaged from impact or trauma. Excessive pressure from yelling or screaming can also cause strain on the vocal cords. Vocal cord problems are common: medical experts understand that at any time, an estimated 75 million Americans experience this kind of issue.

ENTs have to carefully assess cases of vocal cord damage, where patients can experience difficulty speaking or other symptoms. In some cases, a polyp or nodule on the vocal cord may require removal. In other cases, it’s as simple as easing inflammation and waiting for the problem to resolve on its own.

Ongoing Evaluation

Often, patients are confused about the symptoms that they experience.

A problem may start out small, and get worse. Problems like these do not often “pop up” in a day and require swift treatment. Instead, a patient will get some initial warning signs, gradual increases of symptoms, and various levels of pain or discomfort based on many relevant factors.

A skilled ENT is able to look at how vocal cord damage originated, and what it means. ENTs can deal with paralyzed vocal cords, problems with the thyroid or the epiglottis, or other related issues. A chronic case may require multiple office visits and long-term follow-up, as well as other care. In some cases, a biopsy or radiology may be necessary. It’s all part of how skilled and qualified clinicians manage care for a patient who is experiencing this kind of throat issue, and how they help to distinguish one health condition from another.

If you’re experiencing any significant problems with loss of your voice, difficulty speaking, or other troubling symptoms, make an appointment with Joshua P. Light, M.D. Our ENT office has a lot of experience in advising patients on home treatments or other ways to beat chronic or tenacious vocal cord symptoms.