Allergies and Singing

Spring is the time for Love and for Allergies, and if you’re a singer this can wreak havoc on your performances and practice (yes, the love and the allergies… but, let’s stay focused on allergies for now).  Allergies also extend through the Summer periods and rise again in the Fall.

Symptoms include

  1. Itchy puffy eyes
  2. Scratchy or itchy throat
  3. Easily infected sinuses
  4. And, my worst – an itchy “roof of my mouth” (upper palate)!

No one likes dealing with allergies, but for singers they are especially problematic. As human instruments, our tonal quality is dependent on the health and condition of our “instrument,” and nothing wreaks havoc on it quite like allergies.

The singer simply will not live up to his or her standard of singing if allergies set in. There are over sixty muscles that directly influence singing. If any of those muscles are affected by excess mucous production or by allergy-induced edema (muscle swelling) of the chords themselves, the singer will find that the voice is a stubborn instrument indeed.

Fortunately, there is hope!
Many allergy specialists throughout the country have had success treating allergies medicinally. Unfortunately, the side effects are especially problematic for singers. Antihistamines, for example, cause such significant drying of the vocal tract that most singers find it impossible to perform with them. That, among other reasons, is why nutritional and herbal treatments are better.

Non Seasonal Allergies
Nutrition is also important and avoiding the following will help:

  1. refined sugars
  2. dairy products
  3. wheat

Dairy products are universally recognized as enemy #1 for singers and for good reason.  They increase and thicken mucus production – ICK!  Singers often joke about “singing through the cheese” – a reference to eating pizza or other heavy cheese items prior to a performance.  It’s tough to do, but avoid dairy at all costs and your singing will be the better for it!

Drink plenty of fluids every day and remember that vitamins, such as vitamin C, you’re your friend.  A great source for both is grapefruit juice, which helps by thinning mucous and carrying it out of the body. Radishes are also particularly helpful.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and for signing success, nothing is more important than maintaining the health of your “instrument.”

Find Out if Singing Success is right for you.

(adapted from Brett Manning article on Singing with Allergies)

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