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V-LOG Follow Up: Vocal Health

Talking about your own personal health can be a scary thing, and when it comes to vocal health, there are very few artists who discuss the subject. My latest vlog shows a small peek into what has been 6 months of vocal hurdles that have been plaguing me. In comparison to years prior, this past year I was more prone to get a cold, sinus infection or just feel general vocal fatigue from strain. The frequency of the issue was getting concerning. Seeing as I’m about enter the studio for another album and go on tour again very soon, it seemed only right to get a check-up. My biggest fear walking into that appointment was that they’d find vocal damage that would lead to surgery and ultimately put me out of the singing for 3-6 months.

My first encounter with vocal damage was in college. As a music major we had at least 6+ hours dedicated to being vocally active and it was rigorous. Into my sophomore year I noticed many different vocalist in my program mention the word, “vocal nodules” or “polyps”. Those who were experiencing symptoms would disappear for the rest of the semester only to return to following semester. No one ever explained what it was only that it was bad. So after researching what the heck it was, I was left changed.

Did you know that some iconic singers have experienced vocal damage? Well, here’s a short list

Musician: Steven Tyler, Aerosmith front man

Diagnosis: Popped vocal cord blood vessel

Musician: Adele

Diagnosis: Vocal hemorrhage

Musician: John Mayer

Diagnosis: Vocal granuloma

Musician: Whitney Houston

Diagnosis: Vocal Nodules

Musician: Frank Sinatra

Diagnosis: Vocal Nodules

Musician: Mariah Carey

Diagnosis: Vocal Nodules


The list could go on, but you get my point.

There are different types of vocal damage. Below I’ll list out the three major ones:

  • Vocal nodules also known as “calluses of the vocal fold.” They appear on both sides of the vocal cords, typically at the midpoint, and directly face each other. Like other calluses, these lesions often diminish or disappear when overuse of the area is stopped. *

  • Vocal polyp typically occurs only on one side of the vocal cord and can occur in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending upon the nature of the polyp, it can cause a wide range of voice disturbances. *

  • Vocal hemorrhage/tears/bruises occurs when a blood vessel in the vocal fold or in the vocal cord ruptures, and leaks blood into the superficial lamina propria (SLP). This disrupts the vibrations in the vocal cord and usually causes severe disorder of the voice (dysphonia). *

Now after reading all this, take a breath. This is the hard reality of being a professional musician. How you eat and treat your voice on and off the stage affects your long term vocal range and health. Yes you read that right, the things you eat can cause you to experience vocal irritation which could lead to damage if you perform when your voice is irritated. Here are a list of symptoms to watch out for if you feel that you could have vocal damage:

  • Chronic vocal fatigue if you often find you have lost your voice by the end of the day or after an hour of singing, your vocal cords may be experiencing tissue damage.

  • Two weeks of a persistent hoarseness/ sore throat. While this can often be caused by a cold or extended periods of talking or yelling, it also can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as a growth on the vocal cords, including polyps or cysts.

  • Difficulty sustaining pitches

  • Pain/discomfort while singing

  • Sudden coughing occurring only when singing, or tickling sensation in throat

These are of course not the full range of symptoms, but definitely ones to keep an eye on when it comes to keeping vocal damage in check. Now you should try to cut these irritant foods out of your diet or minimize:

  • Foods that add mucous: milk, ice cream and other dairy products.

  • Foods that dry the throat: citrus fruits, alcohol.

  • Throat Irritants: Overly spicy foods, coffee.

  • Sodas and other fizzy drinks put lots of air in your stomach.

  • Ice cold anything: your throat will constrict.

It is important to see a specialist if you feel that vocally you are not at peak performance and this means going and seeing not only a doctor but also a vocal coach who will teach you how to properly use your voice in a safe and healthy manner.

Thanks for reading the V-LOG Follow Up: Vocal Health.

Till next time. Puro Amor, Puro Besos, Puro Tejano

Veronique Medrano

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