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February 06, 2011

Miley Cyrus "I Cut My Uvula"! ...NOT!

I was recently made aware of this video Miley Cyrus made in January 2009 when she reported that she cut her uvula (according to a nurse) after swallowing a slippery piece of chicken causing her voice to sound quite hoarse. Watch the video here:



However, based on how her voice sounds, I seriously doubt that her hoarseness is due to a cut uvula. When the uvula gets cut, or swollen, or gets injured one way or another, it would cause her voice to sound muffled... NOT raspy like her voice sounds. Though it is possible that her uvula may have been injured, it certainly is not the cause of her poor vocal quality.

Rather, I suspect that her voice sounds bad the way it does due to a vocal cord injury. Often, when people swallow a piece of food (like a chicken) that either gets stuck or goes the wrong way, the person automatically coughs severely in order to expel it.

If the cough is severe enough, it'll cause traumatic injury to the vocal cord resulting in a hoarse voice. The injury itself may not be that bad (usually a mild vocal cord submucosal hemorrhage), but the voice does sound bad. Here are two mild examples of laryngitis due to blood accumulation here and here. A more severe example of traumatic laryngitis can be found here.

In this situation, if the person persists and tries (forces) to talk and sound normal in a setting where the vocal cord is injured, compensatory behavior sets in whereby the vocal quality will fluctuate and go in and out as Miley's voice does in the video (listen to an audio of another patient with this problem here). This condition is called "compensatory muscle tension dysphonia," and in her case, secondary to acute traumatic laryngitis.

This diagnosis can be confirmed on fiberoptic laryngoscopy. Treatment is high dose steroids that will bring the swelling down as well as strict voice rest for a few days (depending on severity of the injury). Resolution of her voice would be expected within 1 week with this treatment. Voice therapy may be required, though usually not.

Read more about traumatic laryngitis here.

Read more about muscle tension dysphonia here.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

1 comment:

  1. I always thought it would be difficult to injure the uvula, since it naturally moves out of the way of most everything.
    I get laryngitis at least once a year. Used to get it anytime I was extremely nervous, my voice would be gone for days...prob tension is my guess. Other times a throat ailment that would just run the course..

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