Vocal cord nodules are another concern for many singers, but they aren’t caused by colds or infections, according to Costello.
“Nodules develop over time when a singer gathers their vocal cords together with great energy. If you have a loud enough voice, you may end up with thickening calluses on your vocal cords. These nodular swellings may become bigger and bigger over time and cause hoarseness,” he says. “The solution for nodules is not surgery, but using the voice in a less forceful and less noisy way.”
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, has raised new concerns for those who live by their voice. Singers who have suffered from Covid-19 have reported longer-term changes in their singing voice due to breathing problems or problems with their vocal cords. While such changes in vocal ability may not have much of an impact on the average person, they are worrisome for professional singers.
It is “to have a substantial impact on their breathing and [leading to] a fairly high frequency of persistent coughing,” says Misono. “It doesn’t necessarily directly affect the larynx or vocal cords, but it does have an effect on breathing…if a singer’s breathing is compromised, it’s very difficult for them to do everything they’d like to do with their voice. “, she says.
Shortness of breath is a common symptom of long Covid, for example, and some recent variants of the virus such as Omicron have also been found to cause problems in the upper airways around the larynx. Along with respiratory issues, Covid-19 also causes singers to feel tired and unwell, which prevents them from feeling “energized and vibrant” when they perform, she says.
Whether Covid-19 has lasting effects on the singing voices of those who catch it is much less clear.
But for those battling the winter infections making the rounds this year, it’s perhaps reassuring to know that music doesn’t have to be completely absent from their lives.
Singers who have been told to let their voice recover after an illness may wish to continue doing “little vocalizations” several times a day to slowly get back to singing. “We don’t advocate total vocal rest,” says Michael.
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