Monday, April 30, 2012

Chronic Voice Grogginess?

In January 2011 I got very sick and completely lost my voice. I could barely speak for nearly a month. They put me on antibiotics and eventually I got better, but my voice didn't (they diagnosed no pneumonia or any lung disease whatsoever). I was coughing out awfully green/yellow secretion for the next 3-4 months. About 2 months later my voice was still pretty hoarse and I couldn't sing a single note. I went to see a voice laryngologist/specialist who claimed there was nothing wrong with my vocal cords - no nodules, no polyps, no hemorrhages, no paresis, no nothing. He told me to take a good month's of complete rest and put me on some vitamin supplements. A month or two passed and unknowingly whether it was due to another antibiotic I took (in order to treat another bacterial infection I got sick from) the hoarseness went away.

However since then my voice has remained CONSTANTLY GROGGY. It has become so deep I sound like a Basso profondo (the deepest type of male singing voice). I am unable to sing without yelling. Forget singing... sometimes the voice is so deep it's hard to understand the words in between all the cracks that come out when I speak. Now to clarify a bit more - I can produce a normal voice sound when I speak in a falsetto-ish manner. But when I speak normally without any effort - it sounds groggy. Regarding singing: I have proper technique and have studied singing for many years.
This grogginess is preventing me to sing a single proper note and speaking properly without tension. I'd like to emphasize that it's grogginess we're talking about not the typical hoarseness most people get. I can't tell if it's a combination of hoarseness/crack-ness and grogginess any longer.
I have literally tried everything and am near losing all hope. I've seen 2 more specialists, and no one has diagnosed me with anything that might be contributing to the state of my voice. I've been on more antibiotics than any normal human being can bear. They say we've neutralized every possible bacteria. I've been hospitalized and have done x-rays on my lungs a few times, I've checked everything there is to check - thyroid, epiglottis, immune system tests, blood tests. The only thing I haven't checked is the possibility of tuberculosis - but everywhere I go and following every blood test I give they tell me that I don't have any signs or clues of tuberculosis and that it's pointless to do that - I will however check myself on that in the coming weeks.

 Now the weird part: Throughout this year and a half I got sick a few more times - but in December I caught another bacterial infection (hence another antibiotic) (just to note - I have treated the candida subsequent from the antibiotics.)- and I started coughing out very green and awful looking secretion and JUST LIKE A MIRACLE the voice came back. All of it. It came back one day when I coughed out a whole lot. Everyone thought that possibly the antibiotic cured whatever was the problem and I remained on vitamins and supplements only. And then the absurd thing happened - the moment the yellow/green secretion and the cough stopped - the voice went back to groggy mode. 2 more months went by and nothing changed. I got sick again - and the whole story repeated. This has happened a total of 3 times. The moment I start coughing out something horribly looking - the voice gets a bit better. How is this possible? Is there anything you could suggest that I try that I might have not? As I said I have had myself checked for nearly everything that could come to mind. I can provide more information if you require other details. Please my career as a singer has been on hold for a year and half now, I need to discover how to treat this. I am eternally grateful for your attention and I eagerly await your reply.

Melissa Walker, M.S., CCC-SLP writes...

If several otolaryngologic examinations have a revealed a structurally normal larynx despite your ongoing issues with vocal quality changes, I would suspect at least some component of what is referred to as muscle tension dysphonia. When a singer or speaker encounters an undesirable vocal sound, which may be the result of any underlying irritation to the larynx, the first impulse is to compensate by unknowingly changing the way in which one is singing or speaking. These functionally abusive vocal behaviors, also referred to as muscle tension dysphonia, can exacerbate original vocal symptoms. See a laryngologist (an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician fellowship trained specially in the treatment of voice disorders) for evaluation and consideration of this diagnosis. The treatment for this condition is voice therapy with a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders.  

Best of luck to you.

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