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Chronic upper respiratory issue not solved, show soon!

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Does anyone have some suggestions as to exercises to do, supplements to take or other methods of healing my voice from a chronic upper respiratory infection? I have been suffering from these chronic issues for almost a year and no antibiotic or any other medication has allowed me to shake this illness. The symptoms will subside for awhile, but I get sick again just about every 6 weeks or so. I'm headed to an ENT in a couple of weeks who is a vocal specialist, but I have a show coming up soon and need some healing to start sooner than I was able to get an appointment. I am the Balladeer in Sondheim's ASSASSINS so there is absolutely NO way I can get by without my singing voice. The specific issues that come with this chronic problem are as follows:

- Ears stopped up and itchy; unable to hear well

- Sore throat

- Swollen tonsils although they are not the part of my throat that is sore; tonsils have been swollen for six months straight

- Dry cough

- Hoarseness

- Eventual stuffy, runny nose and headaches

I have seen several different doctors and been on a thousand different kinds of medicine. I'm at my wit's end which is why I finally got a referral to a specialist. But as I stated above, I need some healing to happen sooner than I can get to the doctor. I'm currently on Augmentin (antibiotic #6) and tessalon pearls (for cough). I've tried every OTC medicine available and nothing helps. I was up all night last night coughing and went into the kitchen to whip up every natural remedy I could find online. Nothing worked. I have taken lots of vitamins trying to boost my immune system and all that as well. I just don't get it! I used to rarely get ill. I have been sick more over the last year than ever in my life. Am I doing something wrong? Do any vocalists out there have any miraculous things that have worked for you?

I guess part of the reason for this post is to be able to vent to some empathetic vocalists out there. So thanks for allowing me the chance to vent. I'm just tired of being ill and I'm super worried about my voice. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!

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I was in a similar situation for SEVERAL months not long ago. The symptoms were nearly identical to yours. The usual anti-biotics did absolutely nothing !!! Finally, my doctor prescribed CIPROFLOXACIN (an anti-biotic) for ten days, coupled with a regimen of PREDNISONE (steroid) for twelve days. I noticed results in about eight days.

I too was extremely worried that I was losing my voice for good, but this was the ONLY thing that worked for me.

Additionally, if you have not already done so, I would suggest singing up on the Main Site of TMV, and reviewing the articles of David Katz (http://www.themodernvocalist.com/profile/DavidAaronKatz)

of "Superior Vocal Health".

You may also wish to review past posts in this section made by "Joanna".

Wishing you the very best !!!



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Hi Mandy -

so sorry that you are struggling with this. It doesn't sound like something originally caused by a "bug", although secondary infections may be complicating the picture. a few things to consider:

-- are you living somewhere new since symptoms started? There could be something in the environment that is triggering ongoing allergic inflammation. If you haven't gotten any relief from OTC decongestants, antihistamines, etc., this is probably not it -- but the kind of thing MDs might not ask about.

-- sometimes acid reflux can get high enough to trigger symptoms in upper throat, blocking sinuses/ ear-tubes etc. Especially if your cough is dry-tickly, and voice crackly in mid-range [more than generally swollen & losing highs] this could be it. it's not probable cause but worth considering.

-- Do you have neck injuries or see a chiropractor for other issues or "maintenance? Sometimes subtle compression of the upper vertebrae, right under the skull, can impede circulation & "drainage" in ears/throat, & voice gets hit as collateral damage.

My main recommendation though is to get to a true voice clinic where there are ENTs who specialize in care for singers. They will understand your concerns and be more aggressive than other MDs in figuring it out. Your symptoms are severe enough that herbs/ supplements won't do much; use your time & money to travel & pay for the best care you can. Beg from family if you have to but don't keep fighting this on your own. If you aren't sure where to go in your area, call the Voice Foundation in Philadelphia (a member of TMV I think); their office is networked worldwide and can help you get to the right people.

best wishes --

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WOW !!! You most recent post shed light on my concerns that have perplexed me for several years.

I have had six spinal surgeries since being injured on September 29, 1994 !!! Four anterior fusions and one posterior fusion, being fused from C - 3 through T-1, (and one lumbar fusion). I was at my "vocal peak" from 2008 until the latter part of 2010, and then all of a sudden, it like turning a switch on and off ~ Some days I'm "right on" and others, I couldn't sing properly if my life depended upon it.... :(

But most enlightening were your comments regarding the PERSISTENT ear infections.... They have plagued me ever since my injury. I have NEVER had these problems in the past !!! The infections spread to the sinuses, to the respiratory tract, and on occasion, into the lungs. My doctor(s) were constantly prescribing meds until finally settling on the "combination" I mentioned above. While they did work, once again, I find myself with yet another infection.

At the present time, I'm awaiting an authorization from the insurance company for botox injections to hopefully stop the spasms in the shoulders, neck, upper arms, etc., that currently has put my life "on hold" !!! Hopefully, this will enable me to get my vocal skills back to where I was prior to this dilemma.... BUT, it takes forever to get the aforementioned authorization ~ the insurance companies could care less, and furthermore, by New York State Law, they have 30 days to reply to the doctor's request. (I've been waiting FOREVER). In fact, the pain is so severe, it's very difficult for me to type such a lengthy post..... (Not to mention the anxiety and depression as an additional consequence).

Yes, I have been to ENT's, and they have no answers for me. The only thing that has worked for me in the past to reduce the scar tissue was applying Wheatgerm oil to the incision site. While that has worked for me in the past, it is no longer helpful. If you have any further suggestions, I'd be sincerely appreciative.

I didn't intend to make this so long, however, you have finally given me the answer(s) I've been seeking for so long ~~~ "Why ALL of these infections when I've never had them before???"

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for your dedication and commitment to The Modern Vocalist and all of the members !!!

Thank YOU, Joanna !!! :cool:



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  • 2 weeks later...


thanks for your kind words. You also offer a great deal to this TMV community.

Your spinal surgeries certainly would impact the voice, indirectly if not directly, and I'm really sorry to hear that you've been dealing with that much difficulty.

Best recommendation is to get to NYC and consult with Dr. Benjamin Asher. He is an ENT who favors alternative healing, uses supplements and myofascial release and much other wizardry to treat subtle voice & related conditions that few other doctors even recognize. Since you're in Western NY this might be possible for you.

Have you had any kind of trauma counseling for the initial 1994 injury? I am amazed sometimes when layers of nerve/muscle/structure injuries live on top of a startle or fear response at the cellular level (forgive me if this seems too woo-woo voodoo for you) -- it could be very helpful to meditate or use your other preferred psycho-spiritual tools to let your neck & spine know that the injury is in the past, NOT still happening, the worst is over, etc. This approach can help current symptoms soften a bit, or give you new perspective on treatment, or both.

all my best wishes --


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