5.3 Diseases

The health of a singer should be impeccable. A person, who chooses this profession, should always be in good shape. URI or URTI, influenza, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, swollen adenoids, trachitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, and bronchopneumonia - these diseases badly affect people even not related to the singing profession, but for a singer they can be a certain threat for their instrument.

The task of this section is to inform about these diseases. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the dangers that can occur if the singer improperly uses his vocal tract.

  • Rhinitis (runny nose)
  • Pharyngitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Laryngitis
  • Trachitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Enteritis
  • Adenoids

Rhinitis (runny nose) is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa. It is the most frequent disease. In the first day or two the voice somehow sounds. Singers even say that during this time the resonance in the head appears to be stronger. But after some time the inflammation may go down the mucosa. Oedematous mucosa of pharynx and larynx is a bad assistant in singing. The singer and the audience will hear a distinctive nasal sound, timbre will change because of resonance irregularities in the oropharyngeal channel due to the state of the mucosa. The development of the disease and its treatment will depend on the diagnosis set by the doctor. It's necessary to say that after recovery, pronounced by the doctor, the singer should come to an audiologist and a phoniatre, receiving from them permission to return to singing lessons.

Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the posterior pharyngeal wall. It can be acute and chronic. An acute one is often combined with rhinitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose). Singing with pharyngitis is not only not recommended, but also difficult, since the disease badly affects the state of the posterior pharyngeal wall mucosa. It covers with reddened areas, purulent raids, individual follicles appear in form of bright red beans, the swelling of the mucosa is apparent, hyperaemia (an increased blood flow) of the tongue, the person has a high temperature up to 37-37.5C, a fever, swallowing becomes difficult and casual conversation (not to speak of singing) is painful. Moreover, chronic pharyngitis is a disease that makes professional singing impossible. Chronic pharyngitis has several varieties: catarrhal, hypertrophic and atrophic one. Treatment of pharyngitis is the task of a doctor, we should only note that folk remedies like herbal hot compresses, inhalations, elimination of singing efforts, for sure, could be applied in the case of acute pharyngitis. In the case of chronic pharyngitis singing, eating sharp and spicy food, smoking, and alcohol are prohibited. Doctors prescribe alkaline rinsing. When hypertrophic pharyngitis the pharynx mucosa should be greased with 1-2% silver nitrate solution, in atrophic - with Lugol's solution.

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils. Acute tonsillitis has another name, the angina. In this case, the tonsils can be bathed with solution of Furacilin, iodine, citral, with a special syringe. Means of treatment: UV irradiation, UHF-therapy, the device Vityaz therapy. Angina also causes swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck. Chronic tonsillitis implies a low-grade fever (about 37C). If conservative therapy doesn't help, a tonsillectomy can be prescribed.

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. It often accompanies the pharyngitis. One of the indicators of the disease is a hoarse, croaking voice. All medical references indicate that singing during laryngitis is a way to a dysphonia. Laryngitis can be acute and chronic. Acute laryngitis may occur in parallel with respiratory diseases as a result of voice straining, or inhalation of air contaminated with dust. In case of an acute laryngitis the mucosa swells and gets hyperaemic. Thickening and incomplete closure of the vocal cords become apparent, at first a dry and then a wet cough appears. Doctor pronounces the diagnosis and he prescribes the treatment, which includes no use of the vocal tract, physiotherapy, cauterizing with the means indicated above. Rinsing, hot compresses, foot baths, antitussives, diet food can also be prescribed.

Trachitis is an inflammation of the trachea's mucous membrane. Scratch in the throat and behind the breastbone, as well as a dry cough, leading to a deep breath and a laugh, the change in surrounding temperature (inhalation of cold air from outside). Recovering comes within a week or two. Doctor prescribes warm alkaline drinking, steam inhalations, antitussives and expectorants. Trachitis also can be acute or chronic. A chronic tracheitis is usually combined with bronchitis. Trachitis, depending on the stage of the disease, can barely affect the process of singing, but you should remember that the work of the vocal apparatus in any inflammatory disease sooner or later affects the functioning of the vocal cords.

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi with a primary lesion of the mucous membrane. An acute bronchitis is often accompanied by URTI, trachitis, laryngitis, rhinopharyngitis. Bronchitis is such a serious disease tat you should immediately call the therapist if you notice some symptoms like a prolonged deep cough. Should be mentioned that vocal training and singing should be excluded, because singing in this condition will damage the cords and result in the voice loss.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the maxillary sinuses. Inflammation and purulent filling of the sinuses deprives the voice from facial and head resonance, the pains in the head make the singing process almost impossible, and in the initial stage it affects the voice by adding a powerful nasal sounding.

Adenoids are a considerable change as a result of long-term inflammatory processes in the pharyngeal tonsils. It comes as the result of infectious diseases: rhinitis, laryngitis, etc. Enlarged and inflamed pharyngeal tonsils cause many changes in the body, affects normal breathing. A singer should immediately call the doctor and interrupt any vocal training.