Congratulations on quitting smoking!
I have spent several hours researching this subject and I believe I
have found information that will be helpful to you.
The amount of time it will take for your voice to recover depends on
the extent of the damage that has been done. It will likely take six
months or more for significant healing to occur. In cases in which
more serious damage has occurred, the voice may never recover
In order to determine the extent of any damage that has been done, you
should visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) physician. This will allow
you to begin right away on the treatment plan that is appropriate for
Cigarette smoke is an irritant that causes edema, which is swelling of
the vocal cords. Edema causes the voice to be less clear and husky
or throaty. Smoking can also aggravate reflux, a condition that
occurs when the contents of your stomach migrate back into the
esophagus and throat, causing inflammation. The heat of the smoke is
damaging to the throat as well. In addition, smoking destroys lung
function, which reduces lungpower.
According to an article at the website of La Scena Musicale, (Vol. 2,
No. 8 May 1997), Ask the Throat Doctor, by Dr. Françoise Chagnon,
titled, How Does Smoking Affect the Voice?,
The damage to vocal cords may not completely heal even after the
smoking has ceased. Mild swelling may take six to nine months to
resolve and the more significant inflammatory lesions may require
surgery. Smoking is a major cause of refractory vocal nodules, since
constant irritation in the throat prevents them from healing. Even
with surgery there is no guarantee of recovering a desirable singing
According to board-certified ear, nose and throat surgeon, Dr. Douglas
Hoffman, Did Smoking Damage Singer's Voice?,
Edema is a stubborn problem. Some forms of vocal cord edema even
require surgical treatment. If you have LPRD, you may need to be
aggressively treated for six months or more before the inflammation
LPRD stands for Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease. For a detailed
description of LPRD, see Dr. Hoffmans article.
At the "Question and Answer" page of PhysicianMD.net, a person asked a
question closely related to your situation:
My mother has been smoking for 40 years and as a result she lost the
once beautiful singing voice she had. She has been smoke free for the
past week and she is wondering if she will ever get her singing voice
The doctors response discusses other factors that can also attribute
to the deterioration of her singing voice:
Her singing voice will likely improve over a number of months after
quitting smoking cigarettes. Whether she gets it back all the way
depends on many factors, not just the smoking cessation. Keep in mind
that most people's singing voices deteriorate with advancing age.
Other associated conditions could also affect the return of her
singing voice, such as scarring on the vocal chords or the development
of nodules on the vocal chords from prior smoking.
(http://www.physicianmd.net/questions_answers.asp, Charles W. Prochera
M.D., F.C.C.P., Date: 1/22/2002
For recommendations of what you can do to maintain good voice health,
see "Winter Health Tips for Vocalists", by Anne Peckham at Berklee
University of Pittsburgh Voice Center
"Frequently asked questions: Regarding voice problems"
L. A. Daily News, "Not the same old song", By Evan Henerson, December
WomanRock.com, "How To Care For Your Voice", By Amanda Garrigues
Aetna, InteliHealth , "Vocal-Cord Disorders"
I hope you have found this information helpful. If anything is not
clear or if you would like more information, please request
clarification prior to rating the question.
Good luck with your singing.
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