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Healthy Balance

Protecting Your Vocal Cords & Treating Hoarseness

david sickmen had hoarseness and needed vocal polyp surgery
Many prolific singers, such as David Sickmen of The Hackensaw Boys, have had vocal cord polyps.

You’d never know it when you hear “Hello,” but in 2012, pop singer Adele had to cancel concerts and undergo vocal polyp surgery. Closer to home, David Sickmen, lead singer of Charlottesville-based bluegrass band The Hackensaw Boys, developed hoarseness and pain and ultimately underwent minimally-invasive vocal polyp surgery at UVA.

But professional singers aren’t the only ones who suffer from vocal problems. People who use their voices extensively throughout the day often develop hoarseness and other signs of vocal fatigue. These include individuals who work as:

  • Teachers
  • Pastors/priests
  • Call center employees

Treating Voice Problems

The Voice and Swallowing Clinic team sometimes treats these problems through vocal exercises and behavioral changes. But some patients need surgery like Sickmen’s, typically an outpatient 1.5-hour procedure.

After surgery, patients must rest their voices for 3-7 days. “That means no noise coming from the vocal cords in coughing, throat-clearing, humming or voice use,” says otolaryngologist James Daniero, MD.

In this week’s podcast, Daniero discusses vocal health and common voice problems. Listen to the podcast:

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