Professional singers are often gifted with an amazing creative talent that enables them to create beautiful music for the entire world to enjoy. However, harnessing that talent often means pushing their vocal folds to extremes. Eventually, this strain could precipitate damage that might require treatments such as voice surgery.
Precautions Vocalists Should Employ To Protect Their Voices
Professional singing demands the daily exercising of one’s vocal folds. However, there are certain health tips vocalists can employ to help them preserve their voices, no matter how often they’re called upon to sing. These include:
Remaining Hydrated: Keeping the throat moist ensures that the tissues of the larynx (voice box) remain hydrated, preventing dryness, a typical precipitator of vocal damage.
Be Aware Of The Surroundings: Ideally try to perform in environments that aren’t too harsh. Places that are particularly hot, cold, dry or humid can lead to a dry throat or expose a singer to airborne toxins and allergens that could impact their voices. If performing in such an environment is unavoidable, it’s recommended that professional vocalists consume greater quantities of water than usual.
The following addresses issues pertinent to all professional singers.
Work With Vocal Coaches
Vocal coaches teach and continually enforce how a singer should breathe and exercise specific body regions in a way that most benefits their singing with the least possible strain on their vocal folds.
Rest The Voice Whenever Possible
Professional singers are advised to rest their voices whenever they can. It is also recommended that such persons avoid shouting and whispering.
The Causes Of Damaged Vocal Folds
Damage to the larynx can be precipitated by several different causes such as:
Polyps: These are tiny abnormalities that grow on or inside the voice box, often elicited by chronic vocal strain and long-term exposure to environmental or airborne toxins like cigarette smoke.
Nodules: Continual vocal strain can precipitate nodules, which are hard structures that appear in pairs and collect on severely irritated regions of the larynx.
Ulcers: These are sores that develop on the larynx. Such maladies are often caused by chronic, excessive force placed on the voice box.
Laryngitis: This vocal ailment is precipitated by infection or irritation to the larynx.
Tumors: These can be large, potentially cancerous growths that grow on or inside the larynx.
Paralysis: This occurs when one or both vocal folds open or close with difficulty — or sometimes not at all.
Symptoms No Singer Should Ignore
Minor vocal discomfort or voice changes are typically nothing to be concerned about. However, certain vocal manifestations may indicate a problem in need of diagnosis and treatment by a physician or trained medical specialist such as an otolaryngologist or throat expert. These ailments include persistent throat pain, a lingering vocal hoarseness, changes in typical voice pitch or projection lasting for an extended duration, an inability to speak, wheezing while speaking or singing, and difficulty breathing.
Common Types Of Vocal Surgery and Treatment Options
Should a singer be stricken with a vocal problem that could potentially threaten their ability to perform in their vocation, surgical intervention might be necessary. Specific procedures include:
Microlaryngoscopy: This operation enables surgeons to examine the larynx using a tiny camera and remove polyps, nodules, and tumors. Laryngoscopy is a less invasive procedure in that it doesn’t require surgeons to make an incision to a patient’s throat. Many patients, among them several famous singers, have experienced improvement after receiving such a procedure.
However, larynx surgery does come with certain risks. Less serious risks include occurrences like chipped teeth or a numb tongue. That said, there’s no guarantee that the outcome will be exactly as the patient envisioned. One famous example of this is the legendary Broadway star, Julie Andrews, who opined that surgeons failed to fix her laryngeal maladies when she underwent surgery, prompting her to take civil action against her doctors.
Other Forms Of Surgery
Other surgeries performed to improve potential vocal problems include laryngeal framework surgery, which stretches the vocal folds to improve the maneuverability of the vocal folds to enable more fluent singing and speaking, and injection augmentation, where a bulky substance is shot into the vocal folds to help them close with greater efficiency.
In some instances, simple rest can be the best method to overcome a particular larynx malady. The recommended duration of inactivity will depend upon the specific problem and its severity.
If the throat ailment is precipitated by an underlying medical conditions such as an infection or acid reflux disease, certain medications can prove beneficial.
Singers are taught how to properly utilize the body parts most pertinent to singing, such as the jaw and abdominal muscles, as well as learn to master specific breathing techniques. They practice countless hours practicing using these body parts to improve and create beautiful music.
However, all that hard work and strain on the vocal folds can eventually precipitate vocal issues. For this, it’s important to emphasize that singers are better able to avoid undergoing more radical corrective measures, such as voice surgery, as long as they are prepared to follow certain simple health tips.