Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ask an Expert - Vocal Health

First I have to start off with some medical history. Two years ago I began getting sinusitis, about 8 times or more a year. I went to an ENT who specializes with singers. (My future career) I was having CONSTANT post nasal drip, and I have a 70% deviated septum. We began experimenting with treatments. I used nasal rinses, nasal sprays, over the counter allergy medicine, prescription allergy medicine, and many antibiotics. The doctor finally decided that I needed my tonsils and adenoids out. So I had them removed in April. It was all fine for a few months. But then my nasal drip started again. At this point, I've had a sinus infection for over a month and antibiotics will NOT help. I have noticed a lack of breath support, swift fatigue and hoarseness. I have an appointment with the specialist on Friday. I need to know what he should be doing. Should he be sticking camera's in my nose and throat to get a good look and to see my vocal folds and chords? I am a 17 year old male singer. I do not know what could be wrong with me.

Melissa Kim, MS, CCC-SLP replies...
Today's gold standard for evaluating the vocal cords is laryngeal stroboscopy, a procedure that requires specialized equipment using a xenon light. The procedure is done with placement of a flexible endoscope through the nose or a rigid endoscope through the mouth, and is not painful. Keep in mind that these endoscopes can be utilized without stroboscopy as well, so if you are seeing the doctor primarily for voice concerns, it would be worth asking if they have the equipment necessary to perform a stroboscopic examination.

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