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Tonsils and singing?

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Old 01-16-2005, 09:08 AM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2
Centaria HB User
Question Tonsils and singing?

Hello everyone.
I have enlarged tonsils for a long time. I remember a doctor telling me I had to get them out when I was 7 years old, but my parents didn't sign me up for the surgery so I didn't go to it. I also remember that one night (couple of years ago) I woke up choking but I never thought about the reason why that happened. Now I'm 16 years old, and I go to a choir. I sing in alto, because the lady who holds the choir told me I sound nice when I'm singing low. But I am a natural mezzo-soprano, and alto doesn't fit me. Does the tonsils hold the guilt for that? That woman also said I must "open" my throat when I sing but I can't (I don't know how). My voice always sound "closed" when I sing, even though I could sing high. Also, my voice is, when I sing alto, always kind of hoarse...
I would like to sign up this year to a Music School for solo-singing, but the test is in April, and I don't want to have a strange throat when I go to it And also, I very often clear my throat which is very disturbing for a singer.
So I thought about removing tonsils before it. What kind of consequences it will have on my voice (will it recover until April?), and will I stop singing nicely low, once they are removed? Will it somehow change my range voice? How would singing feel after it?

Please, I beg you to answer me, as this is one of the most important things in my life...

Thank you very much.

Last edited by Centaria; 01-16-2005 at 09:10 AM.

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Old 01-16-2005, 10:55 AM   #2
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singer1 HB User
Re: Tonsils and singing?

I think you would benefit from getting your tonsils out. If nothing else, you won't have the worry of having to deal with it when you are an adult, if anything comes up. I'm in my early 40's and I still have mine and what a pain it is!!!!! I too also sing and if I had it to do all over again, I would DEFINATLEY get them out! That's just me though. As you can read on this board, having tonsils out as an adult, is noooo picnic! I can tell a difference in my throat as far as singing goes, from when I was younger. Hope this helps!

Old 01-16-2005, 12:01 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 2
Kel81 HB User
Re: Tonsils and singing?

I am a singer as well (currently pursuing a degree in voice) and I just had my tonsils out. I had been having problems with hoarseness, loss of range (both high and low)and flexibity, and loss of vocal stamina for two years and they had been getting increasingly worse (despite having two vocal scopes that showed no problems whatsoever with my vocal chords)

Finally this fall my ENT reccomended a tonsillectomy. One tonsil was very swollen (it didn't bother me though since it's always been pretty big) The swelling, however was restricting the movement of my soft-pallet and was causing some swelling in the lymph nodes around my larynx. He told me that he was not sure if the tonsillectomy would be the solution to the vocal problems but that it "couldn't hurt to try." He then warned me that my voice would feel and sound different due to the change in the size of the "resonating chamber" but that's exactly what I was looking for and with my vocal problems getting increasingly worse I had nothing to loose at that point.

I had my tonsils out on December 21st so I'm still recovering and have just now started singing again. Despite the fact that I'm very much out of shape from not being able to sing for a month I'm already noticing a positive difference. Some of the flexibility that I'd lost has already started to come back and my low range (which had really suffered) is coming back. Each day I'm noticing more and more improvement in the resonance of my voice (more resonance than I've felt in the two years since my voice problems started) Those who hear me sing on a regular basis have told me that my voice doesn't really sound any different except for sounding "bigger" and more open. As for the effect on range I'm still very much the alto that I was before the surgery plus even more notes added on the lower end. I have yet to see the effect this will have on my high range since I'm still under doctor's orders to stay in the middle/lower range for a while.

I would reccomend the surgery but if you have an audition in April you would need to go ahead with it as soon as possible since you'd have several weeks without singing and would need time to get back into shape and get used to the new feel of your voice.

I would also reccomend trying to find an ENT who specializes in singers. My ENT does and he was able to answer my questions related to singing very knowledgably and he also took special precautions with the surgery to protect the vocal chord (ie. he ordered that a slightly smaller tube be used in my throat) If you can't find an ENT that specializes in vocalist be sure to stress again and again that you are a singer so that they can take precautions to protect your voice as well.

Sorry this is so long but hopefully something about it is helpful. Good luck with the surgery if you decide to do it and good luck with your audition!

Old 01-16-2005, 01:42 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 2
Centaria HB User
Re: Tonsils and singing?

Thank you very much, both, on your answers and advices . Now I'm sure I have to go to surgery as soon as possible, as it will take time to recover my voice. I just wanted to ask you, Kel81, how many months (or weeks) from the operation you can try singing higher?

It is a long text, but it sure helped me
And thanks for the wishes!

Old 01-16-2005, 06:58 PM   #5
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 2
Kel81 HB User
Re: Tonsils and singing?

My doctor told me at my two week post-op appointment that I could start easing back into the singing as comfortable but to stay in the middle register and to hold off from any belting for two more weeks. (Of course at that point belting and singing in the high range wouldn't have been too comfortable anyways)

I'll be 4 weeks post-op this coming Tuesday and it took until just a couple of days ago for singing to start feeling comfortable again. I still can't reach anything in head-voice yet but I seem to be getting more notes back every day.

I hope the surgery goes as well for you as it's gone for me!

Old 01-16-2005, 07:22 PM   #6
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BioAdoptMom3 HB User
Re: Tonsils and singing?

Something else to consider, have you been sick recently with anything like a cold, sinus infection, etc.? A few months ago I had a two month long sinus infection which also included laryngitis. I direct the chorus at my school and for two months afterwards I was unable to sing anything above an A on the staff (I am not soprano anyway, but thats still really LOW). Turned out that with time, rest and lots of water it cleared up on its own within about a month. A friend of mine who is a music teacher told me recently that it sounds like I had nodules on my vocal chords, which is common especially in people who use their voices a lot. She re-affirmed that it is common for this to clear up on its own if you rest your voice for awhile, so you may not necessarily need to have your tonsils out.


Old 01-16-2005, 07:30 PM   #7
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ladybug8372 HB User
Re: Tonsils and singing?

I dont know as far as singing thing did catch my eye concerning you.....I had always had enlarged tonsils. They were never a problem. About 3 years ago, I noticed I started choking...not thinking anything of it. Then all of a sudden, I started choking more and more...not understanding why. I just couldnt understand how all of a sudden I "forgot" how to chew and/or swallow. (I was choking on food, drinks, and even my saliva). It wasnt until I severely choked on a hamburger that I had it looked into. (I literally thought I was going to die from choking...thats how severe it was).....I then made up my mind it was time to go to the ENT to figure out what the deal was. The ENT said I had very little space for anything to go down..that he highly recommended that they come out. After I came out of surgery, the Doctor told me that I had "cryptic tonsillitis"---meaning having tonsillitis without having symptoms. My tonsils were completely full with pus and infection. He said that eventually I would have started having symptoms....that it would have taken awhile longer....but I would have gotten a sore throat and would have never been able to get rid of it..and it would have even been difficult with antibiotics.

I was 31 when I had my tonsils removed. It wasnt the worst thing I had ever experienced. Things to remember....regardless...drink!! drink!!! drink!!! plenty of fluids!! If you allow your throat to get dry....the pain will be unbearable. If your throat feels mildly where you really dont want to take a sip of drink....DRINK anyway!!! Always have a water bottle in your hand or at your bedside. Carbonated drinks....especially cold ones...will BURN. anything hot or salty will burn. one ever bothered to tell me this.....pain medications.....especially please pay attention...and please make sure you ask your pharmacist and/or dr to be certain if what they give you......WILL cause SEVERE constipation.....if so, do remember to immediately start taking stool softeners and eat plenty of fiber...or start on fiber medications...I am talking so severe that you will feel soooo miserable that you will go to the store and load of on whatever you can get your hands on to take home to try.....and the way it done me....I took an enema....nothing!!!..then tried stool softeners, and a laxative....nothing!!! then done suppositories....nothing!!!! then tried milk of magnesia...nothing!!!! What worked???? Finally...YUCKY tasting castor oil!! And I do mean YUCKY!! If you have never had that before...this will tell you the story of the taste......Do you know what vegetable shortening is??? Imagine drinking 4 TABLESPOONS of liquid vegetable oil....that is exactly what it will taste like and feel like in your mouth. Castor oil doesnt work each and every dont assume that it please remember....dont allow yourself to take a chance on becoming constipated....take precautions as soon as you get your pain medications filled. If you have any other questions...feel free to ask.

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