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Doctor says I'm cured (vocalists beware)


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I had a bout of pneumonia last spring- I coughed violently for about 8 weeks with a low grade cough continuing for close to 4 months. After about 6 weeks of coughing,I finally saw my doctor - he was unconcerned, but ordered x-rays to be sure. It turned out I had pneumonia. Antibiotics were successful in clearing up 90% of the sinus and chest congestion, but it seems to me that a risidual infection still remains. My doctor says it is "likely" just alergies, but I have never suffered from alergies in the past. Chest x-rays are negative for any residual pneumonia or congestion.


Hot steamy showers seem to help, and menthol type cough drops provide temporary releif from the alergy like symptoms.


I fear that I have permanently damaged my voice - but my doctor doesn't seem to understand or be concerned about my symptoms (probably because I am not a professional singer). The symptoms are difficult to explain to a doctor who is not a vocalist. I have lost at least 2 notes off the top of my vocal range, anything above a G pretty much sounds horrible. I seem to have lost the ability to control my voice. When I reach for a high note, or try to sustain a softly sung tone, it is anyone's guess what is going to come out. I have also developed a bit of a growling/raspy tone when I try to sing softly that I never had before - but at least I am learning to control that tone. It is like I am having to learn to sing and control my voice all over again.


Vocalists - if you have a persistent cough - see your doctor do not delay. I have also read up on how to avoid colds and flu. Most important advise is to wash your hands often and after contact (shaking hands etc.) with anyone. Don't have kids - they are germ factories. It was my 3 year old that brought this bit of nastiness upon me.

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong: James Bryce
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Pneumonia causes long lasting damage to the lining of your lungs, even after the infection is gone. I'm surprised that your doctor didn't mention this to you. Also, chronic coughing scars the vocal cords which could explain your vocal problems. In any case, if singing is a big thing for you it would be wise to see an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor (Otolaryngologist or ENT doc) when you have chest/throat complaints. Unfortunately, some HMO's won't let you see one without a referral.


If you're interested, I got this bit o' medical info from my copies of Harrison's Principals of Internal Medicine and the Merck Manual.



MD class 2004

Penn State College of Medicine

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I would second the going to the Ear, Nose, and throat specialist. They will be able to tell you how to fix you vocal problems. I really doubt if you have done permanent damage to your chords, but a E,N, & T doc will really give you some good insight. They might even scope your throat and see what things are looking like. I went a couple of years ago, and the peace of mind was well worth the price tag.
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