Junior Member (female)
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Los Angeles, California
Five years of vocal problems; please help...
Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.
I started having problems with my voice when I was about fourteen and it literally happened overnight. In the few preceding days, my voice seemed to be tiring more easily, giving out towards the end of the day. The evening before this really became an issue, my throat had felt a little sore and my voice was again weak. The next morning, the middle tone of my voice was gone and my throat was sore. I would describe the soreness as somewhat dull, and not the kind of intense pain associated with laryngitis/colds. Although the mid range of my voice was gone and my vocal range was indeed reduced, I had no trouble smoothly vocalizing at the lower and upper extremes of my remaining range. I had no trouble swallowing and if anything, the soreness In my throat seemed to be alleviated as I swallowed food and drink. This is how my voice feels like now, five years later, as well.
That year, I went to an ENT for the first time and after an endoscopy, I was diagnosed with acid reflux and prescribed about a month's worth of 30 mg Prevacid (the pink and black capsules). Admittedly, I had not been very well informed at the time of the lifestyle changes that acid reflux sufferers ought to make in addition to pharmaceutical treatment, but there was no improvement after I finished the prescription.
I went to the ENT again last year and was told after another endoscopy that my vocal folds were irritated, but that there was no permanent harm done. I was explicitly assured that I had no nodules, polyps or lesions. Again, I was diagnosed with acid reflux and given a year's worth of Prevacid, 30 mg, which I was told to take twice a day. I only took it once a day,as I'm not too comfortable with taking it twice, and the longest consecutive time I used it for was maybe about a month. My ENTwas not very specific about how long I should take it, only that I should twice a day. This time however, I did make lifestyle changes such as wearing looser fitting clothing, sleeping on a wedge pillow and eating small, frequent portions of a well-balanced diet. I have still not noticed an improvement in my voice.
I am going to see my ENT again soon, with the intention of asking for a referral to a speech therapist and perhaps exploring the problem further. In the mean time, I've managed to scare myself in researching spasmodic vocal dysphonia, the symptoms for which I'm worried are kind of like mine.
When I sing, I sometimes have trouble creating a stable tone and my range is quite compromised. I read that in SD, the vocal cords slam together, causing the sound of a strained voice and breaks in the middle of words. When I speak, I sometimes feel as though my vocal cords snap together and this causes breaks in my words, a little like what happens when you get a tickle in your throat and are unable to properly vocalize. This seems to only happen to words and tones spoken with my middle voice. It also hurts when that happens and it really feels like my vocal cords have just snapped against each other. I don't know if this is what the SD symptom means, but I'm worried that it is. Also, my voice feels and sounds smooth and normal when I cry or laugh, as I've read happens in SD. I have an underbite, too and would this be related in any way?
I was also told at my last appointment that I have quite a bit of tension in my vocal cords, although I was not offered an explanation as to why. Could this be because I have unconsciously adapted to not being able to use my mid voice for one reason or another, or because of SD?
My voice and throat generally fare worse in the morning and it is only later in the day, or after an hour or so of talking that I feel I am better able to control my voice. I have also noticed that my voice becomes clearer, stronger and easier to control, although my absent middle voice never returns, in the days preceding my period. Afterwards though, my voice becomes unstable, more hoarse and my throat feels a lot more sore than the chronic dull soreness with which I have been living. I can't help but to wonder if this is hormone-related. I am also unsure if this is related, but when I was thirteen, I developed a sort of body-wide muscle tenderness that doctors were never able to diagnose and I frequently have muscle twitches. Could this be a sign of SD?
I'm really confused and scared that I have something incurable, that might even get worse. I'm only twenty, so how much worse might it get over the years...? I'm also frustrated that I've lost years of potential experience as a singer, feel self-conscious even when talking to my friends, feel limited in the types of careers available to me and I'm tired of living in constant fear that my voice will not get better, might spontaneously get worse or that I will do something to damage it.
I guess I also don't really understand how my diagnosis came about- is there a specific type of irritation that acid reflux causes? What if something else, like SD, caused me to unconsciously develop poor vocal techniques, which then indirectly caused the irritation that my doctors observed?
At my upcoming appointment, I don't know how or if I should bring up concerns about SD or hormone related vocal conditions. I don't want to sound paranoid or as though I'm undermining previous diagnoses, which might make them take me less seriously.
I'm really scared, frustrated and desperately need some advice. The more I think about it, the more I think it's not acid reflux. I have never been overweight or obese, never regularly eaten excess amounts of food or regularly consumed "trigger" foods such as strong spices, highly acidic foods or really fatty foods.
Please help and thank you again for taking the time to read this.
Last edited by pinaay; 05-26-2013 at 08:48 AM.