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Doc: I’ve Never Rested My Voice!

Doctor's Corner with Anthony Jahn
Hello Dr Jahn,

I’m a singer and over-talker who has never given his voice a rest! I’ve now started to develop prolonged hoarseness. I no longer yell, over use, get dehydrated, throat clear, and cough, but I’m certain it’s vocal nodules. I go back to teaching in four weeks! Would continuing to barely use my voice be the best course of action for now? Please, any help would be appreciated!

– Jerry

Dear Jerry,

I’m assuming you are well-trained singer with good technique. That would mean that your current problems are not due to chronic vocal abuse, but rather a period of excessive voice use.

If voice rest does not solve the problem, I suggest that you see a laryngologist and have your vocal folds examined.

Given your time constraints, and if the examination shows swellings on the vocal folds, my inclination would be to give you a short course of prednisone along with strict voice rest.

Keep in mind that there are different types of vocal rest

Keep in mind that there are different types of vocal rest. I don’t think you need to be on total silence but should reduce voice use.

Specifically, avoid noisy situations or you might have to raise your voice. I should also mention that teaching is a very tasking process from the vocal point of view.

I’ve had several professionally trained singers who began to teach in schools – and developed nodules.

The best way to handle this is, after one week of limited soft-spoken voice use, see an ENT doctor and have visual sense of what’s going on with your vocal folds.

Once you know what the pathology is, do you and the doctor will be in a better position to address correction.

– Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)

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This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.