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Tonsillitis & Vocal Rest

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My question is ; has anybody experienced severe tonsillitis and were you advised to get vocal rest / did it affect your voice ?

I was diagnosed with a severe case of tonsillitis a week ago. The ETN said I could talk and sing no prob - I specifically asked "is it laryngitis ?" and the answer was negative.

However, my voice went from bad to worse and started feeling a little bit scratchy, nothing too alarming. I tried to sing a bit and it felt like I'd never sung in my life - nothing but strain...

my confidence hit rock bottom , we all know what that is like. It might be a mild case of laryngitis but it has affected my voice.

Yesterday I got a call from one of my students saying she had lost her voice because she had a severe case of tonsillitis and her doc had

advised complete vocal rest for 7 days at least. She could have passed the virus on to me.

PS. If you like horror stories about vocal health read on ;

How this started ; It was friday afternoon (a week ago -3 days before I went to the ETN) and I had a live gig. I teach, therefore I come in contact with many students - some of them were sick,

but you can never know. I started feeling weird, shivered, there was pain in my throat, I knew I was going to get sick. It was too late to cancel and I wouldn't do it anyway since it didn't feel like

laryngitis. So I downed a couple of paracetamols and went to the venue equipped with all the known tricks of the trade. Smoking has been banned in my country but to my dismay

the owner of the club allowed it - the place was crammed with smokers. I disregarded that and started my warm up only to find out the cold or whatever it was had affected

my voice. The range was there but I couldn't hit a note without any wavering, it sounded unstable and strained. I downed all the water I could as well as my trusted black licorice

and went on stage. I was given a wireless mic but unfortunately its battery was depleting - therefore as the set advanced I had to push a more and more.

Meanwhile over our heads were these huge air-conditioners blowing cold air on us and underneath us people smoking like they'd never have a chance to do it again.

My throat went dry during the 1st song, no amount of water or licorice would make the dryness go away. I could barely hear myself and that got worse over the last songs.

Anyhow, I left immediately after the show - a hot shower, warm water and a warm down helped me get my speaking voice back in no time. However, the virus was there and

after 3 days of teaching 12 hours a day, I had to visit the ETN doc...

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I know nothing about singing with tonsilitis. But I totally empathize. Like the problem with my voice, recently. I fully believe that I gave myself partial paresis and therefore, partial temporary laryngitis, from chasing that almighty maximum distortion. It required using my throat muscles in a way that I don't normally use them and it could be that I simply have a different musculature that won't allow very well what I was doing. Anyway, the muscles inflamed and "locked up", so to speak, or strained or sprained or whatever you want to call it. The effect was that I had no fine control. It simply took time for muscles to heal, easy exercises to re-establish some coordination, and staying away from the activity that led to that. And I shall continue to stay away from that activity.

So what is the same is that you may simply have to wait, as well. In construction, I have put up with pollutants that were harsher to me than cigarette smoke, so I understand trying to sing in spite of breathing a haze. I still think you would have lasted better if you were not already ill. The illness was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

I know it sucks. I know it all to well and it was frightening. And I have resolved that I simply have a clean voice and may very well have a limitation of not being able to do much distortion. I'm also very tall, blonde, with blue eyes and, at the age of 46, I still have a full head of hair. That's just the way life is. And if some people don't like my clean voice, sorry about their luck. But at least I have the advantage of being able to change what I do. You didn't have a choice. You got infected and will just have to ride it out.

If I could, I would send you some spicy mexican tortilla soup. It will burn out whatever is ailing you. The spices will set your mouth on fire and you will sweat like a faucet and smell like 3 day old roadkill, but you come out feeling so much better.

Good luck, Thanos.

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Technically, tonsilitis shouldn't affect the voice. I don't get when singers say they can't sing cause they've got tonsilitis. It's not related, except I guess if your tonsils are swollen, it does therefore mean that area of your throat is swollen and so the resonance and stuff and the sound you produce when singing would alter slightly from normal, when there is no swelling there.

The only other reasons I can think of would possibly be that sometimes infected tonsils get mucus on them, which can be all around the throat area, including on the larynx, and this would affect your voice, and also, maybe if your throat hurts overall, you think automatically that your voice will also be affected...and maybe you sing differently, with poor technique, to adapt to that soreness...and it causes problems.

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Doc said the lower part of the tonsils was swollen and gave me antibiotics - I shun medicines but after a week I had to

take them as I could feel the "scratching" more and more everyday.

It was clearly not a case of my voice sounding different - there was strain. Maybe it was laryngitis creeping up and she

didn't pay attention, I dunno.

What's curious though, as I mentioned above, is that my student who had the same, was advised to rest vocally for a week.

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All the effects you listed, Eunice, could affect singing, including compensating the wrong way because the throat hurts. Swollen tonsils will change the resonating space. Mike (Snax) had a partial tonsilectomy this year and he can specifically tell the difference in his own sound.

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If tonsils are infected, they are not doing their job †o protect the rest of throat from infection. So vocal cords can get inflamed. (security guards down means treasure-vault more vulnerable!)

then,yes, the resonance is different; sensations are different so technique starts to chang; your body is fatigued overall from fighting the infection so breath & deeper energy-support aren't where they should be...

and its just the start of flu season!

be careful out there :)

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Thanks for your reply Joanna,

I absolutely agree with you, I'm doing everything within my power to restore my health -

although the scratchiness persists, I managed to warm up today and without any strain so

I might be heading towards recovery.

Thanks again for your interest and time,


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I wish you a speedy recovery my friend. I suffered for many years with tonsil issues. As it turns out they were extremely large and prone to infection. Having the space in the back of my throat so small for so many years made me learn to push too hard to get any kind of volume in my head voice. I also became a chronic chest puller.

It got to be so bad that I stopped singing altogether for over 5 years to let myself unlearn the bad habits. I saw an ENT last year after looking at other peoples tonsils on the internet and realizing that my own were blocking 90% of my airway. I always new that my tonsils were giving me troubles and were always inflamed but didn't realize that they were SO bad until then.

In February of 2010 I had a complete tonsillectomy and also had my adenoids removed. My surgeon informed me that my tonsils were the largest ones he'd ever seen and they were sent to pathology to be tested. fortunately they weren't cancerous or anything. I was able to speak immediately after the surgery and my voice was instantly more resonant and piercing than it had ever been. Of course I had to go through a pretty rough healing process for a month or so.

I have had a completely recovered voice for about 6 months and in that time I have done a ton of research into vocal techniques to try to teach myself the proper way to use my voice. These forums have helped me immensely and for that I'm forever grateful.

I was afraid before the surgery that I might lose some of my range as I had read might happen but the opposite was true in my case. With all this resonating space in my throat now and a better idea how to use my new voice I have had an increase in usable range and a far more versatile voice.

I can now use twang were before it wasn't physically possible due to the obstructive tonsils. I've been able to mimic the voice of AC/DC's singer Brian Johnson recently where it was literally impossible for me before! All I can say is that having the tonsils removed in my own case has been a blessing and I wish I would have had it done many years ago. It was 3 days after my 40th birthday that I had the surgery which is not an ideal time in life to go through something like that!

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I still have my tonsils and adnoids. As a teenager, when I would get tonsilitis, in an era where most people had theirs removed, my doctor didn't believe in surgery if other options were available. So, I would get antibiotics and it would clear up. I know that they are part of the immune system so I don't mind that I still have them. Fortunately, I think, they were never the problem for me that they were for you, Mike. And, like you, if it ever came to a situation where they had become more of a liability to health than a help, I would certainly have mine removed.

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I can clearly remember every time I got my voice sorted my tonsils would swell, I'd be sick for 2 weeks and by the time I recovered I had lost all I'd gained.

Funny thing... the ENT said "we've got 2 little problems here ; huge tonsils and an enormous tongue" ... great, my resonating space is limited to a minimum.

Anyhow, that's what I was given and that's what I'll work with, but reading your post Mike made me realize I'd have achieved much more by now, mainly because

I'd have had better information coming from the voice box and that would have helped me develop my voice in a more efficient way... let alone all the psychological turmoil.

PS. Ron, thanks for your kind words, I truly hope I'll say that about my voice too one day.

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