Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adele's Operation and Vocal Health

Adele recently had laser microsurgery to stop recurrent vocal cord hemorrhage (bleeding) from a benign polyp according to a statement from Massachusetts General Hospital, where the surgery took place.  This condition is typically the result of unstable blood vessels in the vocal cord that can rupture.  The surgery stops the bleeding and has been used in the past on other famous singer’s such as Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler in 2006.  The continual wear and tear to professional singer’s vocal cords can be intense especially if one is battling illness and fatigue. 

Just like an athlete, singers can get injured.  The vocal cord muscles are small and fatigue easily.  Football players get hamstring pulls, broken ribs, concussions.  They listen to the trainers and doctors and take a rest.  If you push through the injury it leads to more trouble.  All are better off it they stop and let the body recover.  Some athletes and singers need to take longer to recover completely. 

An athlete goes through physical therapy and rehabilitation to retrain their body.  A singer goes through voice therapy to retrain their vocal cords and singing voice.  Adele wrote "My voice is weak and I need to build it back up. I'm gonna be starting up vocal rehab [soon] and start building my overall stamina in my voice, body and mind.  Wanting to do something so bad and not being able to is the most frustrating thing as I'm sure you know.”  http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-adele-vocal-hemorrhage-20111005,0,1943101.story


Each person’s voice can withstand different trials and tribulations.  The stresses a singer’s voice endures can be great.  The key to success is in how we pay attention to our bodies and react to what they are saying.  Stopping, getting surgery now while going through vocal rehabilitation and following through on healthy vocal hygiene will save a good portion of Adele’s voice. http://www.healthyandconfidentsingingvoice.blogspot.com/  She had quit smoking and drinking to save her voice and says “I follow all the advice I’m given and stick to regimes, rules and practices to the best of my ability but it seems to simply not be enough."     http://www.ohniww.org/adele-smoking-singing-voice-doctor  Sometimes this is true, but the best hygiene and paying attention to your bodies signals is the best thing anyone can do!

Dr. Lee Akst, a laryngologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center in Baltimore states, "A vocal hemorrhage would stop anyone in their tracks; singers are considered a high-risk group because they use their voices so much.  A hemorrhage is the result of phonal trauma”.

"Every time we use our vocal cords to sing or speak, one vocal cord vibrates against another, and that leads to collisions between them.  Lots of collisions can cause blood vessels to break, leading to bleeding in the vibrating layer of the vocal cord, which in turn causes the area to bruise. The inability of the vocal cords to vibrate is what causes hoarseness, the main symptom of vocal hemorrhages.  The louder you use your voice the more violent the collisions, and the higher the pitch the more frequent the collisions," Dr. Akst said. "That's why singers are at high risk."


Taking aspirin or other medications that thin the blood may make someone more prone to a vocal hemorrhage; the best remedy is rest.   Steam heat, via a humidifier, can help as well.  Do not take a cough drop with menthol to relieve the strain, it in the end will harm you not help you.

"When you have a black and blue mark," Dr. Hopp of Saint Sanai Hospital says, "it usually takes a good week or so to recover. You have to be very careful -- you don't want it to come back because you'll have to go through the healing process again." 

Remedies people typically use for sore throats such as gargling with salt water or drinking hot tea with honey won't work in this instance, since they won't affect the vocal cords.  In some cases there may be an underlying vocal malformation causing the hemorrhaging, Akst says.  But if it's just a case of bruising, then the prognosis is probably good.  The person will sing again.


Moral of the story?  Listen to your body and seek the advice of a vocal professional or doctor if things don’t feel right. Although medical advancements can get us through tough situations, it is best to avoid it all together.

What about John Mayer is up next……

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