Vocal Distress and Rehabilitation

Experiencing vocal strain, “losing” your voice, and/or having a vocal injury that shuts the entire system down can be one of the most stressful experiences in one’s life.  It is an emotional event as much as a truly confounding physiological challenge.

Singers and actors experience vocal stress in many forms.  A combination of stresses can add up to limited sound, discomfort, health problem including infection, and even permanent damage to the vocal folds and or surrounding tissue.   If you’re experiencing signs of vocal stress, get evaluated immediately.  Consulting an ENT might be necessary depending on the nature of what you are experiencing.  Limit your use of the vocal instrument immediately.  Usually the best remedy is actually rest.  Until you can be properly diagnosed it is essential not to add to the problem by continuing to use the system regularly.

Signs you are in distress can be varied.  They include soreness in the throat, the feeling of a lump in your throat, hoarseness or huskiness in your sound, limited range of frequency – usually loss of the upper range.  Difficulty accessing the upper range is an early indicator of vocal dysfunction, fatigue, or abuse and should be taken seriously.

Lifestyle can play a major part in vocal cord health; smoking, excessive drinking and yelling should be avoided.  The primary medical cause of irritation can be acid reflux, which can be surprisingly subtle for most people.  No matter what the cause, continued use on a system that is already in distress can solidify muscular dysfunction and lock the vocal mechanism itself.  Vocal rehab and therapy is a specific regiment of exercises that can help heal the irritation, unlock the vocal dysfunction and tensions caused by injury, and help prevent re-injury.

Being fully informed as to the risks of various sounds an artist may be required to make during a job or in creating their own sound is a fundamental part of vocal technique work at the studio.   Professional athletes get paid major money just like singers do – to show off special skills, do tricks, and exhibit super human feats of endurance and sport.  How could a singer not need to know just what the risks are and how to best fortify their instrument against injury?  The stakes are high, and you truly only have one voice – for life.