Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hoarseness - Singing Voice and Vocal Range

I've been singing in a rock band for the past 4 years. It's pretty heavy so I have been belting out notes and battle with the loudness. I notice I would always get hoarse after a show but then it goes away. For the past year it never left and I noticed songs that I normally sing became harder to reach the notes also warm ups took for ever. I went to a ent doctor in the summer of last year 2013. She put a camera scope down my throat. She said I had acid reflux. I eat healthy because I am also a fitness competitor. She prescribed meds which I took for a week but stopped because it made my stomach hurt so bad. She prescribed a different one but I was too scared to take it. I figured I would research and do it naturally. So I researched and found out some things that I was doing as far as training played a big part. Such as eating and working out, eating and wearing a corset, eating and singing, and eating then going to bed. I even chew mint gum everyday. I am scared that my vocal range is gone for ever. My band just signed to a independent label. My head voice is still strong just takes a while to warm up. I am having problems with the softer notes. I cant keep them steady. It will come out pretty but then goes off into left field and sometimes I sound like I am singing in front of a fan. I don't know if I am ruined for life. Can I fix this? Do I need the medicine? I just want my voice back? Should I take a break from singing? Should I give up the contract or should I stop working out (fitness competition?) PLEASE HELP!!!

Melissa Kim M.S., CCC-SLP replies... 

Acid reflux that affects the larynx, commonly referred to as laryngopharyngeal reflux, is often blamed for vocal changes in the absence of obvious pathology. This condition is very often treated empirically, meaning that effective treatment confirms the diagnosis. If you would like to pursue a more definitive diagnosis of acid reflux, you might seek out a consultation with a gastroenterologist, or discuss this condition as a potential contributing factor to your vocal difficulties with a laryngologist, an ENT who specializes in the area of voice. My suggestion would be to pursue the latter, as a laryngologist is often able to recommend and/ or perform diagnostic tests, such as pharyngeal pH probe, to determine if acid reflux is impacting the larynx. Additionally, a laryngologist will likely offer alternate possibilities as to the reason for your symptoms. Certainly, it makes sense to pursue further, more specialized evaluation before you abandon any worthwhile endeavors! See the Academy of Otolaryngology site at to search by specialty and geographic area.

Best of luck to you!

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