Vocal chord polyps

Today we will bring POLYPS on the vocal chord to your attention.

We all dread that something would happen to our instrument. So how can you know that something might be wrong with the two small muscles down your throat? Please read on, because having an awareness on how YOUR instrument works and feels, is very important for a healthy long lived voice. And to know what to do, and what to look/feel for.

 

What is a polyp? 

“A polyp is a specific and clearly demarcated mass (“mass” simply means “lump,” and does not imply cancer or precancerous lesion) us

ually found at the midpoint the vocal cord. This typical location suggests that polyps are the result of phonotrauma, the physical stresses on the vocal fold which occur with heavy voice use or voice use under adverse circumstances. Some believe that polyps are formed by localized bleeding of the small blood vessels of the vocal folds when they are ruptured by shear forces.”

voicemedicine.com

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What could be signs and symptoms of vocal chord polyps?

Nodules and polyps cause similar symptoms:

  • hoarseness
  • breathiness
  • a “rough” voice
  • a “scratchy” voice
  • harshness
  • shooting pain from ear to ear
  • a “lump in the throat” sensation
  • neck pain
  • decreased pitch range
  • voice and body fatigue

http://www.asha.org/

Other symptoms and advice (from a singers point of view)

  • Voice feels “grey”/lacks spark/shine
  • Voice isn’t as flexible and you can’t do the things you normally can
  • Singing feel like a battle, even “easy” things. Especially in the middle of the register (or high, this depends)
  • You can’t trust the voice, sometimes it works, other times not at all, and you balance between disaster and an “ok” performance
  • You start to feel bad about singing/loosing confidence and joy in what you do
  • You have to warm up a lot to make the instrument work
  • Not finding the “focus” in the voice, feels woolen (too “broad” sound) and it doesn’t carry
  • Other people might say they”can’t hear it” or “I think it sound good”, but if you feel it isn’t: SEE your Doctor!

 

  • If you feel that something is wrong (especially after heavy singing on a bad voice, perhaps even when you had a cold) SEEK advice from a doctor as soon as possible. No! you are not being a diva. It’s about voice-health!
  • DON’T sing on it (if you know you have one) It can lead to another polyp (friction), get bigger or develop into a nodule, which is worse!
  • Go to the doctor, go, go, GO! Don’t wait. It will get worse if you sing on it. (And you will have to take some time off to recover, whatever treatment is necessary in your case).

 

How is a polyp treated?

Voice rest, often prescribed in cases of hoarseness, may improve the voice somewhat, but is not likely to make a polyp go away. Voice rest serves soften and dissolve associated swelling, but the polyp itself is generally too firm and bulky to shrink significantly.

Nodules and polyps may be treated medically, surgically, and/or behaviorally. Surgical intervention involves removing the nodule or polyp from the vocal cord. This approach only occurs when the nodules or polyps are very large or have existed for a long time. Surgery is rare for children. Medical problems may be treated to reduce their impact on the vocal cords. This includes treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies, and thyroid problems. Medical intervention to stop smoking or to control stress is sometimes needed.

Many people receive behavioral intervention, or voice therapy, from an SLP. Voice therapy involves teaching good vocal hygiene, reducing/stopping vocal abusive behaviors, and direct voice treatment to alter pitch, loudness, or breath support for good voicing. Stress reduction techniques and relaxation exercises are often taught as well.” (taken from asha.org)

 

How does this affect a singer?

The time you would need to stay silent and work with your voice without singing may vary. But if you have a broad-based polyp and underwent an operation you would need to be completely silent for a week. After that you would NOT sing properly for about two months, meaning you can’t work in that period. You’d also need to go to a speech therapist who would train you and guide your way back to healthy singing (and general use of your voice).

This you would of course need to discuss with your doctor, who knows what its best in your case. Uncertain of which doctor you should choose? Ask your colleges!

Practitioners are called otolaryngologists–head and neck surgeons, or sometimes otorhinolaryngologists (ORL).

 

 

Tonsillitis & flu remedies

Aah-choo!

Oh yes, the flu and cold-season is upon us, and who fears it more then us?

Unfortunately we singers, although we should be excused,  also get sick from cold, flu and tonsillitis. And often (you can count on it if you have an important audition or concert) loose your voice.

So what to do when you get the flu, tonsillitis or just loose your voice? Well, there is just so much one can do when you first get sick, but luckily it exists some great “old knowledge” on the subject.

Tonsillitis

Are usually caused by a virus, (but could also be caused by bacteria). Please consult your physician!

Here are some advice to relieve the general pain and discomfort and hopefully help you regain your voice as soon as possible! This are supposed to be complimentary treatments to facilitate healing and provide relief!

  • –  Gargling with warm salt water several times a day. You can make your own salt water by mixing 1 tsp (5 g) salt to 8 fl oz (118.3 mL) warm water.
  • –  Using a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom.
  • –  Drinking warm or cold liquids (and frozen desserts like ice creams, etc) whatever feel most helpful. 
  • –  Pain relief, anti-inflammatory, fever reducing medications (paracetamol and/or ibuprofen)

Some great remedies you can make yourself!

  • Lime is one of the most effective remedies in the treatment of acute tonsillitis. A fresh lime squeezed in a glass of warm water, with four teaspoons of honey and a quarter teaspoon of common salt, should be sipped slowly in such cases.
  • – Milk has been found valuable in tonsillitis. A glass of pure boiled milk, mixed with a pinch uf turmeric powder and pepper powder, should be taken every night for three nights in the treatment of this condition. It will bring beneficial results.
  • – Chamomile tea along with honey and lemon is a great home remedy for providing relief from the symptoms of tonsillitis

Homemade mixture

1 onion (chopped, not too small)

2 large spoons with honey

Mix onion and honey together in a screw-top jar. Leave it overnight.

You can then take a spoonful of the liquid whenever you feel you need it. (Soothing/relieving).

You can keep it in your fridge for about 3 days. (Also great against coughs).

Both onion and honey have anti-microbial properties

Influenza (flu)

Are caused by different types of viruses. There isn’t really much medicine to take if you get it, but you can take some paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve

the muscle ache and fewer. Get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids and stay away from tobacco and alcohol.


Treat that stuffy nose

Salt-water rinsing helps break nasal congestion, while also removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose. Here’s a popular recipe:

Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water. Use a bulb syringe to squirt water into the nose. Hold one nostril closed by applying light finger pressure while squirting the salt mixture into the other nostril. Let it drain. Repeat two to three times, then treat the other nostril.

Garrrrrgle

Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces warm water, four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle — such as tea that contains tannin — to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, popular in folk medicine. Seep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water; mix with one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling.

– Try remedies that contains Thymus. For example: Fenu-Thyme. (Supposedly great in helping the respiratory system).

– Breathe Aromatic Steam

– Fill the bathroom or kitchen sink with steaming water, and add two teaspoons chopped fresh ginger (Zingiber officinalis). Drape a towel over your head and lean over the steam to get maximum benefit. Or add one teaspoon of the over-the-counter ointment Vicks VapoRub® to the steaming water, then breathe in the steam for several minutes until you get relief. Another flu remedy is to add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or menthol to the water. Eucalyptus is known to open up bronchial tubes, ease congestion, and make breathing easier.

Rest, drink lots of liquids, sleep, rest, drink, sleep!

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Hopefully you will recover quickly and be singing again in no time!

We hope some of these advice have been helpful!
Get well!

Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Rossini and all their talented friends miss you….