I hope my ramblings will be of some use to the readers of your site. They are based upon my own personal experience and although much of it fits in with current theories relating to MTD some of it does not. I am not a doctor myself and can only speak about my own experience.
A couple of years or so before the real trouble with my voice began, I can remember short episodes of poor voice quality and environmental changes which coincided with changes in my voice. However, the real trouble began when the building where I work was painted. I use my voice a lot in my job and this coinciding with paint fumes gave me an incredibly sore thoat which eventually ended in loss of voice. At the time I did not link said sore throat with said paint fumes . About the same time, I got a small portable photocopier for home use. I know that if I use this for anything more than a few minutes my throat becomes sore, so I very rarely use it now.
I have put these two factors first because I think that they are very big pieces in my ‘voice trouble jigsaw’ . Other factors which I believe to be important are more likely to be mentioned by voice doctors and speech therapists alike. One particular speech therapist who I went to privately intially, was an expert in voice alone and I think that this is important when getting advice. She recommended lots of exercises which stretch neck and back muscles and this is what was really missing from previous advice which I had been given. These exercises have made all the difference and I am generally more aware of things which I do affect my neck and back muscles, eg I don’t spend as much time lying on bean bags on the floor watching tv, I sit on a a settee like most folks . Just be aware of any postures which could be inflicting tension upon your neck or spine. When spending a long time at the computer or sitting with my neck in a particular position for a long time, eg theatre or pictures, I regularly stetch muscles in my neck and back to prevent causing built up tension. I use a neck care pilow at night which is basically a very firm pillow, it is the shape of an ordinary pillow not one of the V shaped ones.
I also took a course of anti acids for a while which helped my throat and vocal chords recover from soreness.
I don’t do as many of the voice warm up exercises as I used to do, (you know the hummed MM-AAA-NNNN and other well know classics such as MMYY NNAAAMMMMEE IS MMAARRYY. I can’t honestly say that I have not noticed a deterioration since reducing these. I don’t think that they produced what was needed for my voice (and I actually think that they are hard work for a tired voice) like the stretching exercises have.
I try to drink as much water as possible and am aware that smoke filled atmospheres and trying to use my voice at a loud volume in such atmosheres does not help at all.
Now that my voice is consistently good, I am back to my singing and I think this has helped my breathing and strengthened my voice. I don’t think that you can begin singing until your voice is basically solid although even when I couldn’t speak I could usually sing!
A positive attitude and a knowledge that the person most able to help you – is yourself – are also very important. Also be aware of substances in the environment which may be grinding your voice down – eg paint fumes, carbon fumes, floor polish.
If you have any pain upon turning your neck, I would investigate the neck exercises. I think finding a speech therapist who can show you these is best. My favourite ones are simply turning the neck to the left and right slowly and feeeling the stretch, putting chin on chest (use 2 fingers on chin to pull chin in) and feeling the stretch down the spine, and opening mouth while chin is on chest and slowly closing as head is tilting backwards. You can also do this same execise with head turned to the left and right. If you can get a voice specialist speech therapist to show you the exercises -it is worth it.
I hope that this information will be useful to readers, even if your diagnosis is SD, it won’t hurt to be aware of the advice which is here and it might just help, even if only in a small way.