Singer Adele’s not alone, even you could damage your vocal cords | health | Hindustan Times
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Singer Adele’s not alone, even you could damage your vocal cords

Adele recently let her fans know through a note on Facebook that she has damaged her vocal cords. How does that happen?

health Updated: Jul 06, 2017 10:55 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Adele included a signed, handwritten note in the program for her show at Wembley Stadium in London stating,
Adele included a signed, handwritten note in the program for her show at Wembley Stadium in London stating, "I don't know if I'll ever tour again and so I want my last time to be at home." (AP)

Singer Adele, 29, has cancelled the last two sell-out shows of her world tour on medical advice after she damaged her vocal cords.

The singer, who has performed two nights to crowds at Wembley, said that she had been struggling vocally.

“I’m sorry, I’m devastated,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “I’m already maxed out on steroids and aids for my voice,” wrote Adele, who went to a throat doctor when her voice “didn’t open up at all”.

The Grammy-award singer has previously cancelled concerts following vocal-cord surgery in 2011.

How does vocal cord damage happen? In Adele’s case, it’s from overuse injury, but it also happens to people who don’t sing a note.

Adele arrives at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S.

“It’s a very common condition in people who have to constantly throw their voice, including singers, teachers, politicians and children who scream a lot,” said Dr Shalabh Sharma, ENT, senior consultant ENT, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi. “ My last patient was a politician who needed surgery a little over a month ago after he campaigned with his politician son.”

Speaking involves coordinating breath and the use of several muscle groups, so prolonged amplification, such as done by singers and theatre artists, can cause damage. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, excessive tension in the neck and laryngeal muscles while singing or speaking in noisy places causes vocal fatigue, leading to hoarseness and increased effort in speaking.

“Singers are at most risk because they have to throw their voice over different frequencies over a long periods,” says Dr Sharma. “Since stage performance involves singing for at least 40-45 minutes at a go, singers risk repeat lesions and haemorrhagging, which can lead to permanent damage.”

Among people who don’t sing, the most common triggers of vocal cord damage are speaking loudly in noisy surroundings, mobile-phone overuse, cradling the handset between the neck and shoulder while speaking on the phone (injury from head positioning), and speaking in a too high or too low a pitch..

“Vocal-cord training helps minimise damage in singers and stage artists, and surgery – which involves surgical removal of small polyps or nodules (extra tissue) using laser – shows good results,” says Dr Sharma.

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