Vocal Damage Solutions

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Do you have an extremely raspy voice? “If so how did you get it? The most common answer is I don’t know. Are you one of these singers who has ignored warning signs over a long period of time. It is ironic that singers who feel invincible are the ones who most likely to experience vocal damage. Singers who fear permanent vocal damage, are at a very low risk of experiencing it. There are real pathologies that can affect your voice, but hearing the term “permanent damage” being thrown around irresponsibly creates unnecessary fear and insecurity. Any part of your body can suffer from bleeding, swelling, bruises, infections and calluses. These are rarely permanent. You almost always heal from these. The same is true for your voice.

Laryngitis simply means swelling in the larynx voice box. Swelling makes it hard for your folds to vibrate, and makes you sound hoarse. Swelling in your vocal mechanism is most often caused by friction. This usually means you are pushing too hard when singing. Other causes are digestive acid reflux and infection. Singers must see this hoarseness as an early warning sign. Without adjustments to technique or lifestyle or the treatment of an infection  the vocal condition will worsen.

Calluses, blisters and bleeding 

A node is a callus on your vocal folds, which disturbs their vibratory pattern, making it feel more difficult to sing and sound how you normally sound. A polyp is a blister, and has fluid in it. It can wiggle when you sing which creates inconsistency in your voice. With a polyp, your voice works then fails without warning. When these happen, it means you have been ignoring warning signs for some time.

A strain is a pull or a sting felt when singing. This means that you have pulled a strap-like muscle that holds larynx in place. You can feel pain in this case, as it is a muscle, and not the vocal folds themselves. A hemorrhage is a burst blood vessel, just like you can see in your eyes, when they become blood-shot. Sometimes a hard cough or forceful scream causes a bleed. In this case, one fold will shut down. There will be no pain, but it will cause an odd sensation.

How to recover 

Some of these injuries may seem bad, but none are the end of the line for your voice. To heal and avoid another polyp or node, you must have a change of behaviour. Rest alone does not challenge the behaviour and/or lifestyle that caused the vocal pathology. Voice therapists and knowledgeable singing teachers can teach you how to get the sound you want in a healthy way. If caught early enough  the node or polyp will dissipate.

Vocal therapy puts you in the driver’s seat of your vocal condition and your vocal destiny. It helps you become accountable to your voice.

Permanent damage

In extreme cases, permanent damage is possible. Severe vocal pathologies can leave leave permanent scarring or an indentation on your vocal fold, even once they have healed. Other forces, such as cancer, can irrevocably damage a voice. Don’t fear that which you can not control. Instead, respect hoarseness, fight paranoia with knowledge, and develop technique that keeps you in charge. All singers must balance their physical condition with their desire to express. Don’t let one cost you the other!


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