Article by Angela Stelmakowich, Growth Op
Patients who smoke cannabis and are receiving treatment for their voices report that they believe there have been both immediate and long-term negative effects on their voices.
The preliminary findings of a survey of 42 adult patients at Philadelphia Ear, Nose and Throat Associates — whose services include preventive and professional voice care — found that 42 per cent of cannabis users believe marijuana “produced immediate changes to the voice,” according to PsyPost, a psychology and neuroscience news website.
A smaller portion, 29 per cent, believe weed had long-term effects, including hoarseness and vocal weakness.
Participants “reported symptoms that they attributed to marijuana use, including hoarseness, breathiness, and weakness,” notes the study abstract. Published in the Journal of Voice, the pilot involves patients who have consumed cannabis via smoking, vaping, eating and using CBD oil.
With regard to tobacco, the study notes, 88 per cent of respondents had never used it, about 9.5 per cent were former users and approximately 2.4 per cent were current users. Three-quarters of the patients reported having tried some form of cannabis during their lifetimes, with about 21.4 per cent being at least monthly smokers and around 39.3 per cent being yearly smokers.
“Marijuana use has been common among rock and popular singers for decades, but it also occurs among other professional voice users, including classical singers, teachers, politicians, clergy and many others,” study author Dr. Robert Sataloff, a professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Drexel University, told PsyPost. “Anecdotally, laryngologists have seen adverse effects from marijuana,” Dr. Sataloff added.
Smoking appears to be the main source of participant complaints, although one weed user did cite cannabis edibles as the perceived culprit.
“Smoking marijuana can cause voice dysfunction,” Dr. Sataloff explained. “For high-level voice users such as opera singers, intoxication or alteration in cognitive function from any cause can alter fine motor control and result in voice injury.”
Doctors need to understand the potential ramifications of cannabis use, including illegal substances that are not subject to quality controls, to be better able to guide patient care.
“People concerned about their voices should be wary especially of smoking marijuana directly because of its heat, unfiltered impurities and other factors, Dr. Sataloff told PsyPost. “Smoking through a water pipe is somewhat better, but still not good for the voice.”
Whether tobacco or cannabis, smoking these substances can have an effect on the vocal chords, Dr. Reena Gupta, director of the Osborne Head & Neck Institute’s Division of Voice and Laryngology, notes in a blog post. Although it’s not clear if the actual voice is affected, Dr. Gupta notes, she cites the potential damage from smoking as including vocal cord scarring (with decreased range), laryngitis, traumatic injuries (such as polyps and nodules), pre-cancerous changes and lung disease.