Losing my singing voice
April 9, 2005 10:23 PM   Subscribe

What has happened to my singing voice recently?

Recently, I have had difficulty singing. I'm no professional, but singing is something I enjoy doing. I have noticed in the past few months that when I first start to sing, my throat feels rough, and I have trouble keeping myself from coughing. I have tried drinking water, but that doesn't always work. I am not a smoker and have never been.

Could it just be as simple as a dry throat? I take lithium, which dehydrates me so that I need to drink quite a bit of water during the day. Does this sound like a dry throat issue, or could it be something else, since drinking water doesn't always help?
posted by veronitron to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
IANAD, but worse case scenario you could have nodes, or polyps. Prolly should see an ENT. In the mean time, try slippery elm tea (available at health food stores) and see what that does for you.
posted by stray at 10:29 PM on April 9, 2005

You don't have acid reflux, do you? That will damage vocal cords.
posted by cali at 10:51 PM on April 9, 2005

Drink some warm water with a touch of lemon, see what happens. Could be something as simple as the dreaded disease we call 'age'. Not to worry, someday we might manage to find a cure.
posted by Goofyy at 12:18 AM on April 10, 2005

When you say that your throat feels 'rough' and you feel like you need to cough, are you talking about a kind of point-like tickling irritation that forces a cough reflex, or are you talking about a general painful sensation in the throat that compels you to want to cough consciously?

Also, what kind of singing are you doing (for example, are you singing solo classical music that requires you to have a strong projecting voice, or are you crooning jazzy numbers quietly into a microphone), and are you in the habit of doing specific warm-up exercises before you start singing properly?
posted by chrismear at 5:18 AM on April 10, 2005

See an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor, aka an otolaryngologist.
posted by kmel at 7:19 AM on April 10, 2005

As someone who's working to be a professional opera singer, it could be a thousand things. Small persistant cold, deydration as you said, poor vocal technique, nodes, etc.

There are ENTs that specialize in singers and can often figure out what's going on. Dehydration is your most likely bet, and drinking water won't help immediately with that, as the cords are located in the other pipe in your throat. As a little experiment, you can try drinking a good deal of water constantly throughout 2 weeks. See if you find some improvement.

If you have insurance to cover a visit to the ENT, go as soon as you can get an appointment. Can't hurt, and it's kind of neat if they investigate with a strobe; you get to see your vocal cords moving in slow motion on a TV screen :)
posted by sirion at 8:58 AM on April 10, 2005

(And Cali has a good point. Acid reflux is a very common cause of the sort of symptoms you're talking about)
posted by sirion at 8:59 AM on April 10, 2005

What they said. The most likely causes would be acid reflux, chronic dehydration, an allergy/sensitivity problem or a low-grade sinus infection; the latter two could cause post-nasal drip, tickliness or inflammation. There are plenty of internet resources about reducing reflux; to rehydrate just drink loads of water for a while and avoid anything diuretic. A colleague of mine who only drank tea (never water) managed to stop a hacking habit and solved some singing problems by simply rehydrating, after visiting an ENT for advice. It might be worth visiting one anyway, to put your mind at rest; you will find out quickly if there is inflammation, excess mucus, or anything abnormal.
posted by suleikacasilda at 9:41 AM on April 10, 2005

Don't forget laryngeal dystonia, which can be medication induced.

Competent ENT should be called on if it's really troubling you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:43 AM on April 12, 2005

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