Friday, June 28, 2013

Permanent Damage to Singing Voice

I sing, and I noticed a raspiness in my singing voice a couple months ago, and I was diagnosed with a minor edema and told to rest my voice and not sing, but not to go on total vocal rest and avoid speaking. I kept getting check ups, and the swelling slowly went down, but it took a couple of months. Finally, at my last evaluation the ENT told me that my cords looked ever so slightly swollen, but it could just be my vocal cords because she has seen that level of swelling in some people on a regular basis. But she told me I don't need to do anymore resting from singing or speaking.

After that I decided to sing again, but after I did I felt mild pain on the right side of my neck followed by a wet feeling, like maybe a bunch of mucus was dripping down, on the right side of my neck, and my speaking voice became hoarse afterwards for about 1 day. So I decided to do total vocal rest for about a week.
Now when I sing I don't feel pain, and my voice doesn't sound hoarse or raspy, but it sounds much more thin and nasal and less full than before, and doesn't have the ring or resonance it had before, also I don't really have much vibrato compared to before. So I have decided to try to rest it as much as possible and then try again later, and possibly go back for another appointment. The ENT said I never had any nodules or pre-nodules, just swelling/edema, and that it had improved dramatically. Since she said that I still had some very minor swelling at my last appointment, I was wondering if the change in my voice could be from minor residual swelling that will hopefully go away, or if you think that I may have done permanent damage to my singing voice. I only had an edema and never pre-nodules or nodules, and I know many people have gone on to recover their singing voice completely from nodules, but I am concerned at how long it took the swelling to go down and how slow the healing process was, and that there was still some minor swelling at my last appointment, and then problems when I sang. I was wondering what you thought about permanent damage and what you would recommend that I do?

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

Vocal fold edema, or swelling, does not cause permanent damage to your vocal folds. I am unclear, though, as to the cause of the swelling. Did your physician offer any explanations as to what potential contributing factors might be? Common causes of chronic vocal fold swelling include voice overuse/ misuse, smoking, acid reflux, and allergy/ infection. Treating the cause of the swelling would certainly make sense as a first step.

Best of luck to you!

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