How do you know if you’ve gone too far?

If there’s one question I hear all the time, it’s ‘how do I know if I’ve done something damaging to my voice?”

Vocal damage is more prevalent than ever before in history.  Nobody cares to study why, but after a lifetime both doing everything wrong, then doing it right, surviving two voice killing conditions and working with singers for over a decade, I’ve got a pretty solid guess: 

 

The problem is the way we sing. 

 

Most of us have done or are probably still doing it right now.  But many times, the first clue is after our voices start crying out for help.

And when they cry, it sounds like this:

The problem is HOW we sing. 

 

Most of us have done or are probably still doing it right now.  But many times, the first clue is after our voices start crying out for help.

And when they cry, it sounds like this:

Pain

 

Pain is our body’s way of saying, ‘hey, knock that off!’

It is NOT a signal that you just had a really cool, intense performance.

It means you are requiring things of your voice that will damage it in the long run.

 

Singing should not be painful, even if you’re a rock star. 

We’ve all had times when we’ve had an adrenaline packed performance and required more of our voices than we should.

But if you are losing your voice for any length of time after you sing you are heading down a road that could lead to nodes, cysts and surgery (oh my).

And don’t be fooled. 

Every surgery, no matter how minor, changes your voice forever.

 

Hoarseness

 

Ever scream at a huge sporting event and find your throat is sore the next day?

Probably no shocker.

Yet we seem surprised when the same thing happens after singing the same way we scream.

 

Hoarseness is another red flag that tells us your voice is not in anatomical balance and is being utilized incorrectly.

And if you’ve been doing other things too long, it can also be a symptom of vocal cord polyps, granulomas (a growth usually caused by acid reflux and accompanied by ear and throat pain) and other medical conditions.

 

Loss of Voice

This is another way your voice protects itself from damage, it says ‘I’ve had enough, thank you.’…and bails on you.

We’ve all had times when we’ve had an adrenaline packed performance and required more of our voices than we should, but if you are losing your voice for any length of time after you sing you are heading down a road that could lead to nodes, cysts and surgery (oh my).

Missing Notes

Almost every voice that is out of balance will have weak or unreliable ‘sections’ and notes that can be in the same general area. 

But if you find that you have specific notes in your range that are consistently weak (‘honking’) or missing (‘airy’) all of the time, take it seriously.  This is a classic sign that you’ve damaged your voice.

It may not be something that needs surgery

There have been many times I’ve worked with singers who were convinced they needed surgery that really had another problem we could easily repair.

But…

Missing notes are an important symptom of vocal nodes or cysts.

And if you’ve been abusing your voice (& sometimes not even knowing it),your vocal cords might have started trying to protect themselves from you by forming blisters on the vocal cords to protect themselves from the pain of being slammed together.

 

Though rare, it is possible to find a professional vocal coach qualified in training that can repair many nodes and cysts to avoid surgery. We’re one of the few.

But because even doctors aren’t trained to look outside their speciality, they’re going to recommend surgery.  The exception is the very few high level Larangologists (voice doctors) who specialize in treating singers.  

I had to go to one of the 2 top vocal surgeons in the country before I finally got someone who knew what I did and the value of it. 

He also encouraged me to develop my own therapy after severe vocal dysphonia (strangled voice) and vocal cord prolapse (a cut through the vocal muscle and cord from a lazy intubation.)  If he hadn’t told me it could work, I would not be able to speak (or sing) today.

It crucial that you know there is help aside from surgery. 

You only get one voice. 

Surgery, by nature, can only chip away at it.

And, in my case(s), no vocal specialist or surgeon in the country could do anything to help me speak again. 

Why Voices Get Damaged

 

There are many incredibly talented people who misuse their voices, many times unknowingly. 

And many times they can get by without audible damage for a long time. 

Dr. Nassari (top vocal surgeon in the US) told me that the only reason I didn’t sustain medical damage to my cords all the years I sang wrong was because genetically my vocal cords are short and thick and could withstand more abuse.

Hey, I’m grateful.  But it’s certainly not a gamble I’d take again.  And you shouldn’t either.

 

Misusing the voice leads to a shorter life for your voice at best

and the loss of your voice at worst.

Sadly, most ENT (ear, nose and throat doctors) have no idea that there are vocal coaches who can address and even fix a lot of these issues.  One of my missions is to educate YOU so you know what I was shocked to know they don’t.

But a good ENT or Otolaryngologist who has worked a lot with working singers will suggest working with a qualified vocal coach to reduce strain, prevent further damage and/or repair any damage that does not require surgery.

Kim Snyder, creator of The Voice Club is the only person/singer/coach ever to completely recover from both severe Vocal Dysphonia and complete Vocal Cord Prolapse.

We understand vocal damage – not just what it does to our ability to sing, but to us as individuals.  And, to date, we are the only ones to have created tools to even approach hard problems like these.  Learn more about what we do – and why.

If you’d like to find out what’s causing your voice pain or strain use the contact form below to ask about our 6wk Vocal Repair Clinic. 

We’ll help answer your specific questions, give you some helpful tips and help stop the pain.

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