Hi Dr. Jahn
I experience mild pain when I talk for more than five minutes and feel the sensation of soreness on only the left side of my throat. I had a look with a flashlight and can see two raised lumps on the left of my throat. In addition to singing, my job as an English tutor requires me to talk for anywhere between 1-4 hours a day. This is my current livelihood, so I don’t know how I am supposed to rest my voice when this is how I make my living! Please advise!
Based on what you have described, I suggest that you consult a laryngologist. One possibility is that you may have reflux, which can affect one side of your throat (quite often the same side that you sleep on).
The second possibility is that you have an irritation over one of the cartilages (arytenoid cartilage) that move the vocal folds. This often occurs with improper voice use, using a “growly” lower pitched voice or vocal fry. This method of speaking can rub the cartilage excessively, causing inflammation, and the growth of some inflammatory tissue, called a vocal fold granuloma. Neither of these conditions will respond in the long term to resting the voice, but need medical evaluation and treatment.
You didn’t say where those bumps were – whether on the larynx or the pharynx. If on the pharynx, I would also include in the possibilities a viral ulcer or erosion, which would hurt more if you stretch the tissues, as with speaking or swallowing.
In any case, a laryngologist should be able to help you with a more specific diagnosis.
-Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)
This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.
Dr. Jahn is an internationally renowned otolaryngologist based in Manhattan with a sub-specialty interest in the professional voice. His practice includes classical and popular singers. He holds academic appointments at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Westminster Choir College in Princeton. He is Medical Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and former Director of Medical Services at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Dr. Jahn has published several books for vocalists, including “Vocal Heath for Singers” (Singdaptive) and “The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health” (Oxford University Press).