Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Difficulty Swallowing After Singing

Yesterday, I was singing along with the radio in my car, and while hitting some high notes, all of a sudden my throat and roof of mouth went completely numb, and I felt like I couldn't swallow. This triggered a panic attack which worsened the swallowing sensation.

Today, in the aftermath, I still feel like there is a rope around my neck, my throat feels tight and I have some lingering numbness and swallowing difficulty. I also find it difficult to speak loudly, and have been avoiding speaking altogether.

What could cause this to occur so suddenly? Is it possible to "blow out" a vocal cord? For reference, I have acid reflux, central sleep apnea, and mild neck arthritis. Thank You.

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies...  
A single episode of voice "abuse" or overuse certainly may result in damage to the vocal cords with resulting voice change, such as a vocal cord hemorrhage (bleeding into a vocal cord) or even development of a vocal cord polyp. Difficulty swallowing would most likely be unrelated but should also be investigated. See an Ear, Nose, and Throat physician for an evaluation of the larynx; while there, ask about a referral for a modified barium swallow study with a speech pathologist for thorough evaluation of swallowing function.

Best of luck to you!


  1. Hello, I am have recently experienced almost identical circumstances, causation, and symptoms. I did this to myself last Tuesday and it is now a week later and I am still experiencing all the same symptoms. I went to see an ENT and he thinks that I either strained or slightly tore a tendon in my throat but I fear it may be something worse. Did you ever find a resolution or any additional answers to your throat issue? It is still very tight and uncomfortable for me and I am having extreme difficulty swallowing.

    1. Same thing here. singing very high (heavy metal), I had some discomfort under the chin. Day after it really hurts, about one thumb up from the adams apple. Feels like I strained some muscle. My voice itself is ok.
      I think I strain my swallowing muscles (called swallow reflex sometimes?) if I go really high, which is of course a bad thing.
      If anyone knows what it was in their case, let me know.