Monday, November 5, 2012

Chronic Hoarseness/Fatigue

My voice is weak and tires easily. I'm told I have a "small" voice, in contrast to 5 years ago when I was told I'd make a good singer, and that my voice really "projects". I suspect problems arose from my being in denial of my natural range. I would really strain to hit those high notes. I visited an ENT who told me he couldn't see anything wrong. I was out of there in 5 minutes, and left wondering if he really looked. The vocal therapist he referred me to said she could notice my voice fatigues easily and suggested that maybe my trying to talk quiet to avoid strain, was actually I causing strain. I tried talking louder but my voice just tenses up and doesn't project like it should. I also choke and sputter on water if I'm not careful. Overnight my voice seems to gain some richness, but this quickly fades after a few minutes of speaking. It's been like this for a couple years now, and it might have gotten worse because I can't help but try and sing sometimes. I've heard vocal rest can help. Would this do me any good seeing as how my vocal problems seem to have already "set-in" after all this time? Many thanks. 

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

If you're unsure as to whether or not an ENT actually looked at your larynx, I would suggest that you seek out an ENT who can perform laryngeal stroboscopy, which is the gold standard for visualizing the vocal cords. If it is determined that your larynx and vocal cords are healthy after a thorough evaluation, I would suspect that there is at least a component of a functional voice disorder (a problem with the way in which you are using the voice). To address a functional voice disorder, voice therapy with a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders can be helpful. He/ she will be able to prescribe specific exercises (and not just make recommendations as to usage) to address specific concerns. This would be a better course of action than simple vocal rest. 

Good luck to you!

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