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In desperate need of help!!!

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Hello everyone!

After what seems like a never-ending cold my voice is in very bad condition.

As soon as i try to push it it cracks up, the tone gets unstable and i have lost over an octave in range. it also both feels and sounds as my vocal cords produce twn notes at the same time, my normal tone and one high frequency "buzz", does anyone recognice this problem and most of all how to correct it as soon as possible, i'm in the middle of recording an album and need to get better quickly, i have been to the doctor but he hasn't give me any answer besides resting so please! if you have any suggestions or tips for getting better please advice

/Thord Klarstrom

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Hi Thord,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having trouble. It's impossible to accurately define what's going on in your throat without hearing you, but I'll do my best with some generic advice based on the symptoms that you've described (I'll also ask some questions - if you could get back to me, great)!

1. How long did the 'cold' last, what were the symptoms and did you keep singing throughout?

2. What's your normal range and where in the range has the octave disappeared from? (I'm guessing the top, but sometimes these things cause a 'hole' in the middle of the range).

3. Your doctor is correct - these kinds of symptoms always mean that you should rest, and not try to make the voice do what it does when healthy. I strongly recommend that you go back, and get him to refer you to a voice specialist who will be able to examine your vocal folds properly. Is there a strict deadline for finishing your album? I mean, is there record company / marketing / distribution pressure on you to complete by a given date? Or is the deadline self-imposed? If the latter, you should definitely take some time off - re-schedule the sessions, or focus on getting the rest of the instrumentation down first. What you shouldn't be doing, under any circumstances, is continuing to try to sing 'as normal' - you will just make the problem worse (potentially MUCH worse).

4. From what you describe, there would certainly appear to be some trauma at the vocal folds. This can take many forms and before we go any further - DON'T PANIC! There are ways to rehabilitate the voice with rest and exercise these days.

5. Please email me independently and I will send (for free) a link to my audio programme which helps to release the throat from the tension that it i clearly carrying at the moment.

6. On a daily basis, you first priority should be REST (this would include minimising how much talking you do during the day, not speaking on the 'phone whilst, talking over music, TV - or any background noise. Make sure that you're using adequate breath support whilst talking as well as when singing - it helps to 'take the weight off' the throat. You should be drinking LOTS of water or fruit / herbal teas - you need to keep well hydrated. Do the exercises on the audio programme that I mentioned above (point 5) at least twice daily. If you smoke, stop. Avoid alcohol for now.

7. In the absence of an 'in person' vocal coach you need to be very careful about what you sing at the moment. There are some wonderful exercises which help the voice to rehabilitate and I am happy to show you what they are - but you need to be fully aware of not only what to do but how, why and under what circumstances. If you have skype this would be the easiest way - again, if you contact me via email we can try to sort this out.

8. There's a product which I can highly recommend that you take while your voice is in this condition. It is called Oxygen Elements Max and it will help 'in the background'. It does a lot of things which are outside the scope of this thread, but one of the things it does is to 'make watter wetter', so that your vocal folds will be better hydrated, sooner, and stay that way. Here's a link to a reputable supplier - scroll down to the bottom of the page to find it:

http://www.health-renaissance.com/oxygen/

9. For topical symptoms / relieving the throat whilst going about your daily business and trying to rehabilitate the voice, I also highly recommend Vocal-Eze, which you can get from www.vocal-care.com (Paul, who runs the company, is on this site. He offers a wide rage of vocal health products). You might also want to look up Garry Rutter (on this site) who is one of my private studio students - he could give you a first-hand account of how his voice responded to the regime I'm talking about.

10. You should also look up blogs or posts by Steven Fraser and Gal Levy - they are pure, unadulterated experts in this subject, and come at it from the 'scientific' end of the spectrum, whilst I approach it from the vocal exercise / complementary medicine end. As with all things (in my opinion) take what you can from all of the advice offered - no two people are alike and what works brilliantly for one doesn't always work for another.

11. In a nutshell:

REST

hydrate

postpone doing the vocals on your album

go to see a voice specialist and a vocal coach who understands voice rehabilitation,

email me for the throat deconstriction download

skype call me if possible for the rehabilitation exercises (email me first and we can set up a convenient time)

Below is a link to an article of mine that's posted outside of this site, which gives a broad, layman's-terms overview of the types of vocal damage / problems that singers get. It may give you a better understanding of what's (possibly) going on:

A guide to causes of vocal damage: http://riakeen.wordpress.com/articles-singing-music/vocal-damage-causes-of/

A guide to types of vocal damage: http://riakeen.wordpress.com/articles-singing-music/vocal-damage-types-of/

Thord, there is clearly something amiss in your voice, and you obviously know that. I can only offer broad-spectrum advice in this forum, as it is vital that you get the problem properly diagnosed and that you see an experienced vocal coach in person, but I hope that this has been of some help in the meanwhile.

All the best, and wishing you better vocal health soon,

Ria Keen

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Sorry to hear you are having problems bud. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix in these sort of situations. It's probably isn't what you want to hear but rest really is so important in vocal recovery, whether as a result of infection or misuse. As Ria pointed out, you didn't really give a timescale for your problem and if you have actually been resting. If it has persisted for more than 3 weeks WITH resting, then you might want to consider seeing someone again. By rest, I literally mean no talking. One of my mentors once told me that if you are having voice troubles, only open your mouth if you are getting paid to do so and that advice is spot on.

Pretty much everything Ria said is good advice. Rest and stay hydrated. Avoid smoking. Avoid long conversations (or any if possible). Avoid speaking in loud areas. Get a vocal coach! etc etc. All the stuff we know we should do but rarely actually carry out.

I wouldn't worry so much about the 'Oxygen Elements Max'. Whoever wrote the description can't even have a GCSE in science because it's rubbish. 'Atomised oxygen' particles are actually a free radicals which, in normal situations, can be cleared from the body perfectly naturally. However, left free in the gut, it will destroy the walls (but it's fine, the same company also seels antioxidant pills...but these don't work anyway but that's another story!).....so I very much doubt it releases these single atoms. However, without knowing what is in it exactly I couldn't say. Thirdly, even it it did actually release O2 (the form of oxygen we actually breathe), the concentration gradient in the gut would mean that only minimal amounts, if any at all, would actually be absorbed.

Just don't overdo it and follow good vocal hygiene. Give yourself time to recover and that may mean delaying the album. You only get one voice in a lifetime (at the moment)!!

I wish you well,

Ben

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Hi Ben,

I'm not a scientist and wouldn't presume to have any knowledge in that department :-) however I can tell you that hospital tests on blood gases (in one of my students) showed a 20% improvement over 4 days after using this stuff. It also seems to have a remarkable effect on skin conditions (based on experiential evidence). Certainly it seems to have a positive effect for those who use it (including my poor elderly dog, who can't be convincing herself)! Might be worth checking with the company as to what the research and full ingredients are.

Meanwhile, Thord, I'm sure we all hope that you see improvement soon, via whichever methods you adopt :-)

All the best to both of you,

Ria

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I don't want to go off topic...but if blood gases are being taken, you are usually pretty ill and will be requiring intesive treatment so I would put it to you that it was the treatment in hospital was what was making your student better. However, if people think it works, go for it. I personally would consider it nothing more than an expensive placebo. That's not to say don't try it. I would encourage making an informed decision about what you wish to give a go.

That being said though, I hope you get better soon Thord!

Ben

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Hi Ben....I noticed your threads here.......May I recommend you register with www.biocare.co.uk the No 1 Professional Nutrition Supplement supplier in the UK, also used by Doctors and whose "scientific" research is excellent. Contact their R&D dept and you may get a better understanding of nutritional biochemistry and the studies they are involved with. The companies founder was John Stirling (An Australian) who worked with Dr Josef Issels in Germany on ground breaking cancer treatment and John went on to found Biocare. He has since sold out but the work goes on and I think you might learn much more about what you are saying regarding nutritional advice. You could also check out my old teacher Dr David Smallbone at www.highernature.co.uk and another professional I worked with Dr Mark Draper www.nutritionmatters.co.uk. Have fun and drop me a line when you have had time to look at their work. :lol: Hilary

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Hi Hilary,

I will indeed chck this out. By the way, nutritional biochemistry as a profession is an important one. Indeed, I have engaged in many an informative dialogue with one of our facaulty who is a nutritional expert. The problem comes with the fact that the term 'nutritionist' is now unregulated, something which the true academics resent and this is not helped by the media 'nutritionists' who talk of science and yet what they are saying is nothing short of just plain wrong. Unfortunately this is far too common. Even some of the self professed academics such as Patrick Holford have work riddled with flaws and he is meant to be the UKs expert. I'll give you examples should you wish.

Nutritional supplementation is an entirely different kettle of fish and the research I have come accross is not in favour of it. Just eat well and get regular exercise and there is no need to take supplements. Unfortunately, that's not as exciting as a quick fix in a pill which is why it doesn't get as much attention. However, this isn't really the place to chat about this, but I would be more than happy to chat with you by email about it. I would be very interested in any specific research you can send me.

Contrary to what you may believe, I would be more than happy to post here saying I am mistaken on this issue if I find it to be the case.

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Hi Ben!

You are absolutely correct, my student was very seriously ill. He had lung cancer which had been diagnosed in its latter stages, and he had refused all medical treatment - which is why the hospital surmised that it was the oxygen supplement which had made the difference to his blood gases. Under normal circumstances I too would be making the logical assumption that it was traditional treatment that had made the difference :-)

I totally agree that people should be making informed choices, but for me, anything that I use regularly is based on trying it out for myself and seeing whether or not I get a result - nothing more complex than that :-) For example (just one of many!), I tried echinacea because many people recommended it as a means of preventing colds. It didn't work for me - not at all - but I have colleagues who absolutely swear by it, based on their own experiences. Other things work brilliantly for me but don't work for others. Perhaps (although I don't think so) all of these 'alternative' treatments are merely placebos. I go with the opinion that if it works anyway, because the person thinks it does, then that's something of a miracle of the mind :-)

All the best,

Ria

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Thord:

Did the doctor examine you with a mirror or eyepiece, or did he have videostroboscopy equipment (where your larynx can be seen on a video monitor & vibrations in slow motion)? You really need to get the latter type of exam. A doctor who says "just rest" & gives you no further info does not sound experienced in working with singers' voice problems.

Sometimes the viruses that produce a cold can get into one of the laryngeal nerves, leading to a mild or moderate weakness (temporary partial paralysis). Most typically this involves one side more than the other, so the vocal folds are not moving symmetrically, and it can sound as if there is a double-sound or buzz. Range and endurance are also affected. The nerves usually recover, but it can take months.

If this is the case, resting the voice will mostly keep you from compensating for the problem with muscle tension in other places. Specific exercises from a knowledgeable speech pathologist (voice therapist) would be important, to speed up recovery.

To be very clear: I'm not diagnosing here, just suggesting that a more thorough medical investigation is a good idea, to check this possibility and other problems that the first doctor might have missed.

If you want to reply privately & tell me where you are located, I may be able to help find a good voice clinic near you.

best wishes,

Joanna

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Thord, did you tell your doc that you are a singer? A weeks hoarseness for alot of people isn't going to be anything else than a bit of a pain in the neck. However for a professional voice user such as a singer or teacher, it is obviously horrific. You gotta let him know because that can affect the management.

A doctor who says "just rest" & gives you no further info does not sound experienced in working with singers' voice problems.

Rest is probably the most important part of the management of most vocal troubles. If it is recurrent, or lasts for a significant period of time whilst resting, that is the time to refer to a specialist for either some speech therapy to improve technique or to an ENT for further investigation.

Sometimes the viruses that produce a cold can get into one of the laryngeal nerves, leading to a mild or moderate weakness (temporary partial paralysis). Most typically this involves one side more than the other, so the vocal folds are not moving symmetrically, and it can sound as if there is a double-sound or buzz. Range and endurance are also affected. The nerves usually recover, but it can take months.

This is actually really rare and something that I've only seen case study reports on. It's also caused by a different virus than you would have from a cold (assuming that is what Thord had originally.....but the viruses that have been shown to do this are unlikely to cause cold like symptoms). It's something to be aware of but there are alot more likely things to consider before this, such as continued abuse in acute inflammation such as this leading to chronic laryngitis. That's why rest is so important.

If you're still having problems in a couple of weeks. Pop back, let your Doc know you are a singer and talk about what you can do about it and he can refer you on (assuming you are not in the UK, you can straight to an ENT if you wish....we have a referral system here).

Get well soon!

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Thord...get professional advice! Joanna is an expert Voice Pathologist, give her a call! You may need to stop singing and take a break in your recording.

I had a similar experience this winter but my voice is now back fully. I had a crack here and there and lost my range for a while, but no buzz or any of the other things you have experienced. However I haven't needed to push it and it's fine now. It has been a hard winter on singers.

I suggest you consult with Joanna and take her advice to see someone locally. :lol: Hilary

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Thord...get professional advice!

Good call.

Btw I've had a quick preliminary sift through some of the names you provided. I see John stirling has done some guides on nutritional protection from cancer. I haven't read them but I assume it will talk of increasing fibre to protect against colorectal cancer etc. Good and important stuff.

A quick search in a medical search engine of Dr Josef Issels found that he was actually prosecuted in 1961 for manslaughter (but aquitted for fraud) for telling patients he could 'cure cancer'. It was described as 'homocide by negligence'. However, he was later aquitted on the basis that he genuinely believed his approach worked.

http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/reprint/22/3/188

I'm emailing you now to pick your brains on some of the others research if that's ok.

Ben

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HI Ben

Quickly as it is off topic .....I will always recommend medical attention when it is needed. That has always been my personal philosophy. I have personally gone through the "only natural" route and I have come full circle in believing that the best medicine is medicine that treats the whole person in balance and both natural therapuetics and allopathic medicine have their merits and dangers in different ways. The great thing is that the UK is beginning to bring both together in hospitals, GP surgeries etc.

As for colorectal cancer..... studies are showing that vegetarians have a higher incidence of this contrary to popular beliefs on fibre and the scientists don't know why. So fibre isn't the only answer.

John Stirling would fight you tooth and nail about Dr Josef Issels. John was a guitar player in a top Australian band and at 24 years old had a severe Melanoma on his arm, he couldn't continue at the level he was at. John comes from a respected medical family in Australia. Dr Josef Issells saved Johns life and John worked with him for a while. I read his book whilst I was working at Biocare for a while. I would trust my life to John Stirling. I will say no more.

I've just got your email and will get back to you.

I hope Thord is OK, haven't heard him back here? Anyone know? love & blessings Hilary

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Hi Thord,

I'm pretty certain I can help you, however, to be absolutely sure I would need to hear your speaking voice over the phone. Meanwhile you can refer to my website: www.vocalscience.com for detailed information. Plese click on the voice repair section.

That's all for now.

Best regards.

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This is actually really rare and something that I've only seen case study reports on.

Where do you see most of your patients?

I was lead therapist in a laryngology/voice clinic for 7 years and evaluated about 1000 people with voice problems. Can't give you the %, but there were plenty who had temporary paresis with no triggering event other than a cold. This may not be a published condition—because difficult to prove beyond doubt—but all the MDs I worked with spoke of it informally. And such patients were helped much more by rehab-exercise than just with rest.

I hate to get fierce about credentials, and of course medical professionals --including alternative medicine -- can respecfully disagree. But when we give health advice there is a responsibility to be clear about the basis of one's knowledge. Even in the field of voice, people can DIE from a problem that is incorrectly diagnosed or treated.

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