Dear Dr. Jahn,
How do I convince my G.P. to refer me to a E.N.T. to look at my vocal chords? My appt. With my E.N.T. is 2 months away! Where can I get help for my vocal problems between now and then?
I am assuming that you are in the U.K., and dealing with the bureaucracy and over-utilization inherent in the National Health System. In the USA, you could be seen within a week, particularly in high-doctor-density locations like New York.
You didn’t tell us whether you are having vocal problems, or are just curious to get a baseline examination view of your larynx. If you are well, with no symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, coughing or spitting up blood, then two month’s wait is probably acceptable. If on the other hand you are experiencing hoarseness, particularly hoarseness that is not getting better or worsening, along with other symptoms that would suggest a problem in the throat, then you should be seen sooner.
I would assume you could see a consultant using private insurance, or by paying for your visit, although I am not that familiar with the U.K. health system. In general, however, if your voice is fine, or has not changed recently, and you don’t have any other signs or symptoms suggestive of a progressively worsening condition, you may need to just wait.
-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).