When you depend on your voice for a living, there’s nothing more frightening than waking up the day after a performance with throat pain or finding that you can’t sing or speak at your normal level.
Some acute vocal problems resolve on their own in a day or two. But if you’re a professional singer, actor or speaker with hoarseness or pain lasting for several days, it’s important that you see a doctor. The right care can often help prevent your short-term problem from becoming a long term issue.
Get a complete exam
Dr. Korovin can do a complete exam that will, in most cases, rule out any serious vocal injury. Fortunately, many voice troubles resolve with a course of rest, varieties of medications and/or vocal therapy running from 4 to 8 weeks. After making a diagnosis, Dr. Korovin may refer you to one of the many outstanding vocal therapists in New York for help. If you have a more serious issue in the throat or vocal cords, getting an early diagnosis from Dr. Korovin may help you avoid a real threat to your career as a performer. Key acute vocal problems Dr. Korovin can diagnose and treat include:
Muscle tension dysphonia
This is a term that is used loosely to describe many conditions where the muscles around the voice box become tight and restrict singing or speaking. Muscle tension dysphonia is not a conclusive diagnosis. It is often diagnosed too readily. It can arise from a variety of underlying causes. If you’ve been told you have this condition, a specialist like Dr. Korovin can help you pinpoint the cause of your voice problem more precisely and come up with a truly targeted treatment plan. Read more about muscle tension dysphonia.
Acute laryngitis is a very common problem, but one that can result in a good deal of physical or emotional distress. It can be caused by a variety of things including overusing the voice, a cold or flu or excessive use of alcohol or tobacco. The condition sometimes calls for treatment with an antibiotic, but it is often cured by taking a short break from performing to rest the voice and the body. A complete exam by a physician specialized in voice is needed to clarify whether you have a common and non-threatening case of laryngitis or underlying issues which may complicate the situation. These may include allergies, sinus problems, tonsil and adenoid inflammation, laryngophayngeal reflux or pulmonary problems. Read more about acute laryngitis treatment.
Vocal cord nodules
Nodules are a frequent problem. They are much feared by vocalists, but they can often be cured with very conservative treatment. If you are experiencing breathiness or hoarseness, diminished vocal range or pain around the larynx, nodules could be the cause. In most cases, symptoms are worse in the late afternoon than in the morning due to accumulated voice use.
The sound of your voice is created by vocal folds vibrating together. If you speak or sing loudly for too long, those folds can begin to swell, causing them to meet imperfectly. Eventually, the swelling can turn into a nodule that can cause problems with your singing or speaking voice.
With the use of video stroboscopy (which is a scope connected to a camera that allows the vocal folds to be examined in slow motion), Dr. Korovin can diagnose nodules accurately and quickly. Fortunately, most patients with nodules can see a major improvement with a course of rest and voice therapy. Only in cases where nodules persist after this type of treatment will surgery be considered. Read more about vocal cord nodules.
Emotional issues affecting the voice
Through her many years of treating professional vocalists, Dr. Korovin has gained a full understanding of how much emotional stress can cause singing and speaking problems. Terms like “stage fright” and “functional voice disorder” are used to describe a wide range of situations where the vocal folds look good under examination, but don’t seem to be working properly.
Dr. Korovin has developed a network of top-quality health professionals who she refers patients to for voice therapy or more alternative treatments like psychological therapy, acupuncture, laryngeal message or Alexander technique. Other recommendations may include medication, pilates or yoga. By taking the emotional problems of singers seriously, she’s able to provide the right kind of treatment for each patient’s unique problem. Read more about a physician’s treatments for emotional problems that affect singers.