Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Voice - After 39 Radiation Treatments

I need to regain my voice after 39 radiation treatments for Head & Neck Cancer. I am a professional singer. I am 4 & 1/2 months out of treatment and I am wondering if I will ever get my singing voice back.

Barbara P. Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP replies...
I understand your concerns.  I would suggest that you come in for a laryngeal stroboscopy/voice evaluation with our laryngologist and speech pathologist.  It is necessary that we visualize your vocal folds/larynx in order to make appropriate recommendations.

Please let me know if you have further questions.  If you wish to make an appointment for an evaluation, please call 443-849-2087.

Kind regards

Barbara P. Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S
Administrative-Clinical Director
The Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head and Neck  Center
Johns Hopkins Voice Center at GBMC
Board Recognized Specialist in Swallowing Disorders
Clinical Specialist, Head and Neck Rehabilitation
Baltimore, Maryland 21204

Voice Screenings

The Johns Hopkins Voice Center at GBMC would like to announce our voice screening program! The speech-language pathology team provides assessments to professional and semi-professional voice users, or any layperson experiencing vocal difficulties. This program may also be beneficial for healthy voice users as a tool to establish baseline vocal performance, which may be a source of
comparison if one encounters problems in the future. Voice screenings are offered on the last Thursday of every month from 3:00 - 5:00 pm; the charge for the screening is $15.00 that may be paid at the time of the appointment. 

Your voice screening will include:
  1. A review of your voice history to identify any potential problems.
  2. Acoustic analysis of the quality of your voice using state-of-the-art equipment to determine if there is any indication of potential vocal cord pathologies.
  3. Visualization of the larynx with a small endoscope (camera) that is passed (painlessly) through the nose. This is optional for the squeamish, but the most objective way to look at the vocal cords.
You will receive a printout of your vocal quality parameters as well as a photo of your larynx by request.

If there is any indication of a voice disorder, you will be referred for a full voice evaluation under the supervision of both a physician and speech-language pathologist to make a formal diagnosis. A full
evaluation will require a referral from your primary care physician, and you will be required to ensure authorization and coverage by your insurance.

Questions regarding insurance can be directed to our administrative assistants or clinic manager.

Speech-language pathologists cannot provide a formal diagnosis but can isolate need for further evaluation with a physician. At that time, the two professionals will discuss your case and determine any need for therapy, surgery, medications, etc.

Participants may register by calling 443-849-2087, or e-mail questions or to

E-mail requests will be confirmed with a reply.

Looking forward to sharing this great opportunity with you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chemical Burn on Larynx

Five weeks ago, a singer friend of mine used bleach to clean a small room. They then applied KILZ followed by paint over a three day period. My friend is chemically sensitive and evidently the fumes from this mixture of household chemicals produced a chemical burn on their larynx. It has been 5 weeks and their voice does not seem close to being restored. We are in the care of an ENT specialist, however the ENT has not prescribed any medications and has done nothing other than visually observe the healing process every two weeks. Also, we would like some sense of milestones or benchmarks to determine if progress is being made at a normal rate. Can anyone give an idea how long is customary for a person to recover from accidentally breathing these types of household chemicals? Of course it will vary from person to person, but should we be thinking in terms of 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, etc? Any metrics we can use to measure progress? Thank you

Barbara Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S replies...

I understand your concern for your friend.  However, we do not have a structured protocol or metric that I can share with you regarding chemical exposure.  Possible medication interventions and course of recovery is multi factorial.  A complete examination by an ENT as your friend has sought is very important.  I suggest obtaining a second opinion via a complete evaluation by an otolaryngologist and speech pathologist.   This is the only way to assess the extent of irritation and mucosal changes caused by the chemical exposure.

Please let me know if you have additional questions and concerns.

Barbara Messing, M.A., CCC-SLP, BRS-S
Clinical Specialist in Head & Neck Rehabilitation and Swallowing Disorders
Voice Clinician
The Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center
The Johns Hopkins Voice Center at GBMC

Loss of Voice

One week ago I had an incident of acid reflux during the middle of the night. For three days I had a very sore throat and swollen glands.   After that I lost my voice.   I am now without a voice for five days  (no sore throat).   Will it come back if I rest it?  Thank you.

Melissa Kim, M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Your voice may certainly improve with rest, but five days without any voice warrants an evaluation by an Ear, Nose and Throat physician.
Best of luck to you! 

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Pathology Coordinator Clinical Specialist, Head & Neck Cancer Rehabilitation
The M.J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center at GBMC
Phone: (443) 849-2087