I'm a professional singer that also seems to have what I like to call professional allergies. It doesn't matter what time of the day, time of the month, or time of the year it is. My allergies work hard to always be present, and they never take a break.
Can allergies make me lose my voice from time to time? Unfortunately, yes. Allergies can often be the bane of my existence when it comes to speaking and singing engagements alike, but I've dealt with it for so long that I've found ways to just make it work.
As explained by speech therapist pathologist Felicia Carter at Baylor’s Institute for Voice and Swallowing, secretions from the back of your nose can slowly drip down into your voice box (also known as your larynx).
This post-nasal drip can negatively affect your vocal cords, and in extreme cases, can cause you to lose your speaking and singing voice completely. More often, though, the secretions from your nose will drip and cause you to clear your throat or cough a lot to get rid of it, which is not great for you in the long run.
Post-nasal drip is most commonly temporary and is more prevalent when certain weather conditions are present and irritating, like cold and dry air. This irritating occurrence happens to many of us, even people who rarely get allergy symptoms.
According to Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialists in South Florida, hoarseness and a weak voice can result from allergy-related laryngitis. This is a result of inflammation in your larynx and causes similar symptoms to that annoying post-nasal drip that allergies can give you.
When we inhale allergens that are foreign to our bodies, our immune system starts to release histamines from our blood cells, which triggers excessive mucus in our bodies. Mucus acts to absorb moisture in our voice box, which can then cause dryness, irritation, and inflammation that can lead to laryngitis.
Total hoarseness has happened to me a few times thanks to my allergies, but I more commonly have more manageable symptoms, including cough, excessive mucus, sneezing, sniffling, and an itchy throat. While all of these can be very annoying, they don't completely take away from your ability to sing or speak.
Like I have been able to do several times in the past, you may be able to get away with a vocal performance in spite of allergies trying to ruin your life. The more practice you have with it, the less it will throw you off, and you will be able to adapt.
Other pesky symptoms of allergies that can affect your voice can include swelling in the throat and mouth, watery eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath, and sinus headaches. None of these will do you any good, so let's move on to ways you can combat these allergies!
Remember how I mentioned that histamines get released from our blood cells when we experience allergy symptoms? That term may sound familiar, thanks to the prevalence of antihistamine medicine that is available on the market.
Antihistamines like Benadryl and Claritin can be your best friend when you have allergies. I personally have to switch my medicine around from time to time since my body likes to get immune to medicines after I take them for too long, but thankfully there are plenty of affordable variations out there.
Besides this most common treatment for allergies, you may want to look into one or more of the following remedies for your symptoms.
Stay well-hydrated with plenty of water that can help thin the mucus that is present in your body.
Consume plenty of Vitamin C, which can also act as a natural antihistamine and control your allergy symptoms.
Consider using humidifiers or hot steam to clear your throat and voice box when you feel like you have a lot of phlegm or congestion in your throat.
Consider medicines that have Guaifenesin, which helps to thin mucus as well. The most popular product that has this is Mucinex.
Sleep with your head propped up at night to avoid mucus gathering in your throat area. This often happens to me, and I wake up immediately in need of some steam to clear me out.
Try a nasal spray that includes a corticosteroid like Nasacort (which worked great for me in my youth), which is an anti-inflammatory drug.
Use air purifiers in your home to kill allergens that are often present in our rooms as we sleep at night, which can cause us to lose our voices.
Instead of coughing or clearing your voice, try drinking something or letting out a siren hum to clear your throat instead so that it is less harsh on your voice box.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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