Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Voice

I am now a Junior in high school but when I was in 7th grade I was one of the best and loudest students in my class. One day I had a sore throat. My teacher told me to sing as well as possible, so I did. But after my throat stopped hurting my voice didn't go back. Now I cannot hit the notes I want to and if I try my vocal cords stop producing sound. All that comes out is air and it sounds like I'm trying to hiss at someone. Please help me I want to sing in front of my family and friends again. What can I do to fix this?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...
I would first suggest that you talk with your parents about seeing an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician to rule out the possibility that there has been some vocal fold damage that is contributing to your symptoms. If your larynx is determined to be healthy, your next step should be to seek out an experienced singing teacher to address any contribution that technique is playing in your vocal difficulties.

Good luck!

Sick of My Voice

I'm a 25 y/o male and got big tonsils that haven't really given me any health problems. But I do have a particular voice that's been a frequent mock object along my life. Besides, I have to repeat what I say all the time because I can't make myself understood fluently.

Would a tonsil removal improve my voice and make it sound normal?

I went to a phoniatrician but it didn't help at all. Thanks :(

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

I cannot remark as to whether tonsillectomy would improve your symptoms... only a physician who has personally examined you would be able to determine this. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician for a thorough evaluation and treatment recommendations.
Best of luck to you.

Vocal Cords

In Mid July I got very sick during a production I was in on opening night, and unfortunately I had to finish out the four week run, but I got better. The next performance I did, in the week and a half before tech week, I felt like I strained my neck...It was a sudden kind of thing, I had fully gotten better from my illness and unfortunately my allergies were acting up, but I began feeling neck discomfort as if I had strained my neck, and now it has become unavoidable. When I sing my neck hurts so bad, and the pain radiates down my right side. This being said, I can feel mild pain on the left, but the right is severe. Also, I can't sing to the best of my ability. After going to two ENTs who have said that my cords are clear, do you think I could be suffering from MTD and if so who do you think I should see so that I can get a clearer diagnosis?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Muscular conditions of the head and neck area can contribute to muscular strain conditions of the larynx. Although muscle tension dysphonia (MTD) may be an issue, I would first suggest that you see your primary care physician regarding your neck and right-sided pain. You may need imaging or referral to a specialist to correctly diagnose and treat this problem.
Good luck!

Voice Issues

Hi. I'm a 33 year old male and have been singing for most of my life. I had not had any real issues with my voice until about 3 or 4 years ago. I had a voice screening done at GBMC, which came back normal. I've been having some issues with changes in my voice.  My problem is this: I get hoarse (husky voice) easily now and experience vocal irritation and fatigue only after minutes of singing (and sometimes speaking...approx 20-30 min). At times it feels like there's a lump and/or tightness in my throat. My singing voice has become practically unreliable. I don't have the same flexibility and ease of range. I had ENT look at my vocal cords and again was told there were no nodules or lesions. At times the irritation has almost a burning sensation. I've considered that it could be LPR (Reflux). Can reflux cause this type of problem I'm describing? This is very important to me because singing has been a joy and passion of mine. I've not been able to participate in functions and events because of this. What further tests would I need to find out what's going on? Any advice or direction would be greatly appreciated.
 
Thanks.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Acid reflux into the larynx and throat is often referred to as "laryngopharyngeal reflux," or LPR. Symptoms of acid reflux into the larynx may include laryngitis, hoarseness, sensation of a lump in the throat, post-nasal drip, chronic throat clearing, excessive throat mucous, sore throat, cough, laryngospasm (spasm of the throat), and/ or throat pain. Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physicians may diagnose LPR following a laryngeal examination via rigid or nasal endoscopy; more definitive testing for acid reflux includes pH testing that may be done by an ENT or a gastroenterologist (GI doctor). A GI doctor may also recommend endoscopy or x-ray studies to diagnose acid reflux.
Good luck!

Born With a Raspy Hoarse Voice

I was born with a raspy and hoarse voice. I never thought about it much until recently now that I feel shortness of breath especially when I am trying to speak in a loud tone of voice. I am very embarrassed of my voice even though men compliment it often. I am very ashamed of how I sound, but what worries me is that in order to be heard by a group of people I feel I have to talk loud and even then I sound low. It is rare since I can actually yell but when I speak my voice varies and I feel like I am forcing my throat when I want to be heard by people. Do you know why I have this problem? What can I do to correct it?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

There are any number of possible explanations for your vocal symptoms, for example, vocal cord motion impairment, presence of a lesion, etc. The only way to determine the cause of your voice difficulties and appropriate treatment strategies is to be evaluated by an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician. 

Best of luck to you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Vocal Cords Seem Exhausted

This has been happening for the past three years now. When I sing and not for long it feels like my vocal cords are exhausted and I get horse. I can't reach high pitches anymore without cracking, and it seems as though my range in now in the lower register. By the way, I am a female and I am only 22.  Please help I feel like I'm losing my voice. 

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

I would guess that some element of your technique is contributing to your chronic vocal fatigue with singing. I would suggest an evaluation with an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician to rule out the possibility that there is any physical contribution to your symptoms; if all is well, your next step should be to seek out an experienced singing teacher.
Good luck to you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Over Production of Mucous

Over production of mucous is limiting my voice clarity, volume control and pitch range. ENT specialist viewed with endoscope says vocal chords not closing fully when voicing. Apparently no infection present. Problem increasing over 12 month period. Allergy ruled out.  Treatment possible? (male 80 yrs otherwise good health)

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Given your age, I can only assume that when your ENT described vocal folds that are "not closing fully when voicing," he/ she was talking about "presbylarynx," or "presbyphonia." This condition refers to age-related atrophy of the vocal folds, most typically resulting in hoarse, weak voice. Voice therapy with a speech pathologist who specializes in the treatment of voice disorders may be helpful. If it is not, there are surgical options for this condition, most commonly injections of a filler material to improve vocal fold closure that can be done in an office-setting.  

I cannot guess as to the contribution of excessive mucous to your vocal difficulties, but that is a problem that is often multi-factorial (e.g., irritation due to acid reflux, illness, environment, etc.) Work with your physician on possible lifestyle changes and/ or medications.
Good luck to you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Strange Voice Problems

Hi there. I've suffered from a strange voice problem since I was a child. I was made fun of because of it and now I'm extremely embarrassed and aware of it. I try to hide it from all of my friends and even my husband. However, now that I have children, I want to figure out what this is and hopefully do something about it. I hope I can explain it well enough to find some answers.

Sometimes while I'm speaking, my voice will suddenly sound very nasally and strained. It occurs randomly, but almost always happens when I become emotional (i.e. scolding my children, telling a funny story, having an argument, etc.). Sometimes it happens out of nowhere, like while I'm reading a book or having a normal conversation. The best way to describe the feeling is that it almost feels like I can feel a flap closing in my nasal passages and there isn't as much air coming through. When it happens, I stop talking or just pretend I'm yawning or fake like I'm distracted by something and stop talking til the feeling passes (usually a few seconds). I feel like when I scold my children they don't take me seriously when my voice changes because it sounds like I'm laughing/crying/getting emotional. I feel like it affects my daily life because I can't have animated conversations with friends and family without it happening. I feel like people think I "hum" and "hah" a lot because I fill in those few awkward seconds with "uh" and "ah" until the feeling passes and I can speak again.

Would an ENT be able to help with this or should I see an ENT who specializes in voice disorders? I can't make it happen on demand, so I'm thinking of recording myself and bringing it in so they can understand what I'm talking about. Any insight from you would be greatly appreciated as I'm having a hard time finding anything about it online.

Thank you for your time and input.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...
What an unusual and frustrating problem! Unfortunately, it would impossible to venture a guess as to what might be the cause of your symptoms without an examination of your larynx. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician for  a thorough evaluation and treatment recommendations.

Good luck to you!

Tonsil Removal

Should a singer remove both tonsils if only one is infected and swollen? Antibiotics and penicillin do nothing.

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

This recommendation should come from a physician who has examined you personally. If you do not feel confident in your physician's recommendation, seek out a second opinion.

Good luck!

Unidentified Voice Problem

I am suffering from a voice problem since more than 10 years. I am 25 year old (male), and I can speak in 2 tones. The usual voice in which I am comfortable is a bit girlish and has a very low scale, means if I am in a noisy environment, the other person will not be able to hear me. Some times my voice skips when I talk. My second voice is very deep and loud. But if I talk too much in my deep voice, my head starts paining. Also if I sing in my low scale voice, I can perfectly maintain tempo, but in my deep voice I can't. Can you please explain the reason, and diagnose this problem?

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

I would first suggest that you seek out an evaluation with a laryngologist (an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician with specialized training in voice disorders) in order to determine if there are any anatomic or physiologic factors contributing to your vocal difficulties. If your larynx is determined to be structurally normal, you may be experiencing what is referred to as "puberphonia." Puberphonia is the persistence of abnormally high pitched voice following the onset of puberty, and can often be successfully treated in voice therapy with a speech pathologist. 

Good luck to you. 

Vocal Cord Lesions

Because of a haital hernia and acid reflux, I have vocal cord lesions. If I have surgery on my vocal cords will I not ever be able to sing again?

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Surgery to remove lesions from the vocal folds, whether benign or malignant, does carry a very slight risk of scarring, which may result in long-term hoarseness or voice change. Seek out an experienced laryngologist (an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician who has done speciality training in treating voice disorders, including vocal cord surgery) to minimize this risk.
Good luck to you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Strep Throat

I've been getting chronic strep throat since about December of last year. This past summer I was planning on getting my tonsils out but the doctor was telling me that my voice will change, and he "didn't think" it would effect my falsetto range. I have a wonderfully developed falsetto range that I value very much. I put the surgery on hold. Well, I have strep throat again and I just have to ask, do you think getting my tonsils out will have any adverse effects on my singing voice? Thank you!

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

It is unlikely that you would experience any long-term vocal changes as a consequence of your tonsillectomy. Short-term vocal changes, particularly altered resonance (because of the change in the contours of the vocal tract after removing the tonsils) and possibly hoarseness (secondary to the potential for vocal fold swelling/ inflammation from endotracheal tube placement during the surgery) may occur. These short-term changes most often resolve with time.

Best of luck to you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Voice Problem

A little more than a month ago, my voice began cracking when I try to sing along at church. It then starting cracking even when I talk. I'm not singing or talking loudly. I'm not doing anything out of the ordinary. I am beginning to worry.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 
Voice change that persists for more than two weeks without explanation warrants a visit to a physician. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician for a thorough evaluation.

Thank you for your question.