Adele Cancels U.S. Tour Due to Vocal Cord Hemorrhage
Chart-Topping Star Must Rest to Avoid Permanent Voice Damage
Rob Hicks, MD
WebMD News Archive
Oct. 5, 2011 -- Once again, British singer Adele has been forced to cancel a number of sold-out U.S. shows because of throat problems.
The award-winning singer-songwriter of such hits as "Rolling in the Deep" says on her blog that for the second time this year, she has a vocal cord hemorrhage. She's been told she must rest or risk damaging her voice permanently.
The singer blogs that she is "heartbroken." Adele was planning to kick off her 10-city U.S. tour this Friday in Atlantic City.
Adele has had a number of health problems in the past year. She's had flu, laryngitis, a respiratory and chest infection, and now her second vocal cord hemorrhage.
British throat specialist Gerald Brookes, MD, works with singers. He's the man the British version of the show The X Factor has turned to for the past four years whenever any of its contestants has had a throat problem.
He says a vocal hemorrhage is the only situation, in terms of acute voice problems, where the show doesn't go on.
What Is a Vocal Hemorrhage?
Adele describes it as like a black eye on the vocal cord.
Brookes says: "It's a situation where bleeding occurs from some of the small blood vessels associated with the vocal cords. They bleed into the tissues of the vocal cords and they cause some slight swelling. Sometimes they may form small blood blisters on the vocal folds or they may just bleed under the surface tissues, just as you might bleed under the skin, for example.
"The problem is that the blood can organize and form scar tissue, and in forming scar tissue it can interfere with the way that the vocal cord functions.
"The surface of the vocal cord is rather like the fronds of a sea anemone. It's a very fragile membrane. It actually oscillates as we talk and sing. It's that undulatory motion that gives the voice its musical quality.
"With vocal cord hemorrhages, if there's excessive scarring it can interfere with the vibratory pattern of the vocal cord and give the patient a permanently husky voice."
Change in Voice
Could Adele's voice change?
"It could," Brookes says. "There are quite a lot of professional singers out there who have a slightly husky voice. They've probably overused the voice. Maybe they've battled on singing when they've had viral laryngitis or something like that. They've got up and performed and overdone it."
The slight husky quality, he says, may be one of the characteristics that make people like their singing style. For other people who have a more pure singing voice, he says, they may not have the full range they had before.
Treatment for Vocal Cord Hemorrhage
Rest is the only real treatment as Adele herself has acknowledged online: "I have absolutely no choice but to recuperate properly and fully, or I risk damaging my voice forever."