I have a friend who recently discovered that his problems with the voice were actually a serious issue in a vocal fold. Singing with problems on vocal folds can cause severe problems, and even at times end the prospects for a career.
Correct singing brings the vocal folds together, and even energetically. If the edge of a vocal fold has an irregularity caused by reflux or scarring, this impediment to closure causes a corresponding inflammation and eventual injury to occur on the other vocal fold at the contact edge. So the problem compounds itself.
Years ago I learned how to look at my own vocal folds. Here is what you need:
- a pen-light. If there is a supply shop for doctors in your area you can find pretty strong ones.
- a dental mirror with adjustable mirror. The dental mirrors in pharmacies out right now do not have adjustable angle mirrors, and the angle of the mirror they have is not great for looking at the vocal folds.
Once you have these things you can look at your vocal folds by warming up the mirror under hot water. You place the pen-light under the molars on one side and the stick of the mirror on the other side. You push your tongue forward against the bottom teeth and in the throat, as if you were yawning. You place the mirror right under the soft palate and shine the light on the mirror, which will reflect down on the vocal folds. You get close to a mirror to view what is happening.
This allows you to have a clear picture of your vocal health at any point in time. This is how I personally discovered the severity of my acid reflux disease, as I monitored the swelling on the posterior part of my vocal folds when I had heartburn.
Had my friend been keeping a watchful eye on his vocal folds, he would have not been singing with this issue. We can’t go to the doctor all the time to have him scope our larynx. We can do that and become experts on our laryngeal health.
The vocal fold edges should be straight and the body of the cords should be white. If they look pink or swollen, or the edges are not straight, then you should be very careful. I would suggest not singing until you get to the bottom of why they are not healthy. It could be allergies, reflux, vocal strain due to too much singing, yelling, cheering, coughing, etc.
Bottom line: monitor your vocal folds to make sure you don’t sing with unhealthy vocal folds because you might pay a very big price.