A COMEDIAN from Ayr has hailed the care she received after having voice problems believed to be linked with vaping.

Karen Dunbar, most famous for her roles in the BBC Scotland comedy Chewin' the Fat, as well as her own series, The Karen Dunbar Show, was referred to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) service by her GP about six months ago after becoming concerned about her voice. 

After making the decision to stop vaping, Karen, who moved to Ayr as a young child and went to school at Ayr Academy, continued to find her vocal cords were irritated, causing her to cough and clear her throat regularly. 

She started having appointments with speech and language therapist (SLT) Rose Livingston at Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow, where she was given information and support on taking care of her voice, as well as exercises to help her overcome her issues. 

And Karen, who returned to the big city aged 21, told how healing her voice was “imperative” as she prepares to continue her ‘An Audience With’ live tour across Scotland. 

The tour visited Venue38 in Ayr's Carrick Street last September, and will return to the same venue on Thursday, July 11.

READ MORE: Ayr comic Karen Dunbar to play homecoming concert

She said: “I was having problems with my voice after vaping. I stopped vaping but I was still coughing a lot and was continually having to clear my throat.

“It went on for about a year and it was affecting my voice, which could have ultimately impacted on my job. 

“When I started working with Rose, one of the best things about the treatment I received was her manner and the care she showed me.

“She was aware of the sensitivity and the vulnerability I felt, I was scared because obviously my voice is my job.

“It’s instrumental to what I do. I have 40 live dates ahead of me, so it’s imperative that I have my voice.”

Karen was invited to speak at an annual celebration of NHSGGC’s SLT service this week, where she gave a speech to staff explaining the positive impact they have had. 

Karen started having appointments with Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) Rose Livingston at Gartnavel General Hospital Karen started having appointments with Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) Rose Livingston at Gartnavel General Hospital (Image: NHSGGC)

During the event at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, she praised the support she has had, describing her treatment as “second to none”. 

Karen said: “It wasn’t a case of 'here’s some information and off you go'.

“Rose was invested in my care and put in the time and effort to really help and support me.

“She explained thoroughly what was happening to my vocal cords and gave me clear information about what could be done with regards to treatment. 

“She taught me vocal exercises and explained the importance of voice rest. 

“People think voice rest is whispering or talking quietly - it’s not. It is complete silence, not speaking at all.

"It’s like any kind of strain; you need to rest that body part completely and not use it at all.”

She added: “The care I received has been a massive part of the healing process.

“It also put my mind at rest and gave me some assurance that nothing more serious was going on.”

Each year, the SLT holds an event which includes feedback from patients.

Rose said: “We were delighted to welcome Karen to our celebration event to hear about the difference our service has made to her life. 

“Many people don’t realise how different occupations can have an impact on their voice, for example, actors, teachers and faith leaders are all professional voice users who spend much of their working day speaking. 

“Speech and language therapy can help people learn new techniques to help protect their voice and address concerns they may have and prevent problems from getting worse."