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Countless singers swear by steroids, either in the form of pills or injections, because of their seemingly magical power to bring a voice back when it is hoarse or completely gone. But are they actually helpful or could they be harmful?

Like athletes, singer’s rely on the health of their body for optimal performance. In the same way that leg muscles can become sore and swollen for a kickboxer, the muscles that make up the voice box are also subject to swelling from misuse, overuse, lifestyle habits, and the list goes on. Singers, unlike athletes, however, usually don’t think of the voice as being a physical instrument requiring care, because it is an invisible instrument. Yet most people are very aware of how the voice can have good days and bad days.

Inflammation of the vocal cords is the usual culprit for bad singing days. Often, inflamed vocal cords are swollen vocal cords. When the vocal cords are swollen, they are not as free to vibrate and stretch, which impairs voice function. This is where steroids come in.

Steroids are used for a specific purpose, to reduce inflammation in the body. For singers, this medicine will bring down the inflammation of the voice, which will temporarily restore the voice somewhat back to normal. But is this a good thing? The answer is yes and no. 

Steroids treat a symptom and not the cause. While they might reduce inflammation, they aren’t correcting the cause for the inflammation. Additionally, steroids can actually make one of the main causes of swelling worse… acid reflux! In light of this, singers would be very wise to determine what caused the inflammation in the first place and deal with that issue. 

Oftentimes, vocal misuse in the form of strain is the reason for vocal swelling. If your technique is what causes swelling, then steroids are just fixing your voice so you could abuse it more. This could make your vocal issues worse or permanent. 

So, do steroids actually help singers? No, but they are a useful temporary fix in dire circumstances.

 

Benny Meza

Author Benny Meza

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