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  • Writer's pictureDiana Drew

What are the Symptoms of Vocal Damage?

  • Vocal cord disorders can affect your voice or ability to talk.

  • Some of the more common vocal cord disorders include laryngitis, reflux or GERDS, vocal nodules, vocal fatigue, vocal polyps and nodules.

  • Hoarseness is a general term that can encompass a wide range of sounds such as a raspy or breathy voice. While hoarseness often is caused by a cold or extended periods of talking or yelling, it also can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as a growth on the vocal cords, including polyps or cysts.

  • Vocal cord disorders are often caused by vocal abuse or misuse.

  • Symptoms may include:

  • a raspy, hoarse, low voice

  • a breathy voice

  • trouble swallowing

  • dry cough

  • frequent throat clearing

  • Any hoarseness or change in voice that lasts longer than 2 weeks should be brought to the attention of your healthcare provider.

  • Vocal issues need to be diagnosed by a qualified ENT specialist to rule out more serious medical issues.


3 Signs your Vocal Cords may be Damaged ...

1. Chronic Vocal Fatigue

Vocal fatigue can result from overuse of the voice. We often see this in professional voice users – such as teachers, singers, and call center employees.

Just like your legs can get tired from running, your voice can get tired when you use it for a long time. Our voice therapists recommend that for every 60 minutes of voice use, you need 10 minutes of voice rest. Overuse can damage the vocal cords, and if you often find you have lost your voice by the end of the day or after an hour of singing, your vocal cords may be experiencing tissue damage.

A laryngologist or ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist) should examine your vocal cords for growths or other conditions and may recommend voice lessons and therapy to learn techniques that reduce the stress on your vocal cords, and hopefully help to reverse any tissue damage.


2. Throat Pain or Discomfort with Voice Use

If you feel like you have to exert a great deal of energy to produce your voice, that’s not normal.

During normal vocalization, only the vocal cords should move. However, sometimes we use the muscles in our neck to help produce sound, leading to muscle strain. You may not be able to see this in a mirror, but through a laryngoscopy, we can see the muscles on the inside of your throat straining when you speak or sing.

Again, voice therapy will help you learn how to relax these muscles during vocalization.


3. Two Weeks of Persistent Hoarseness or Voice Change

Hoarseness is a general term that can encompass a wide range of sounds such as a raspy or breathy voice. While hoarseness often is caused by a cold or extended periods of talking or yelling, it also can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as a growth on the vocal cords, including polyps or cysts.


Many of these growths often can be treated through voice therapy, although vocal surgery may be required. As with most medical conditions, early detection is key. If you experience a voice change such as hoarseness for two weeks or more, make an appointment to see a laryngologist. A laryngologist is an Otolaryngologist (ENT or Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist) who specializes in the vocal cords and care of the voice.



Vocal Cord Disorders Caused by Vocal Abuse or Misuse are Preventable and Treatable

Through voice technique lessons, vocal rest and therapy you can prevent future vocal damage; learn how to use the voice more effectively and effortlessly in the future. Learning to 'let go' of the voice instead of 'pushing' or 'forcing' the voice to push the volume out is so important! Learning a healthy vocal technique accompanied by vocal rest in between vocal lessons is the most effective treatment if you want to avoid chronic vocal surgery. Many celebrity singers secretly have annual vocal surgeries to repair their vocal damage done by chronic forcing and straining.


You can learn 'HOW' to use the diaphragm more effectively. A qualified, experienced teacher can teach you '.how'. You can get maximum activation of the diaphragm muscle with proper technique. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".


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