For a singer, allergies can be a minor annoyance or a gig endangering struggle. Whatever the case may be for you, there are tools that can help. I, unfortunately, had to learn the hard way what works and what doesn’t. Here are my tips to help you learn the easy way to stay clear!
It is, as they say, a thing. No one wants to do it, but it is the singular best remedy for excess mucus. I find that using a neti pot daily can rinse out the extra mucus that drips down the soft palate into the throat. I’ve read it can also eliminate dust and pollen that you’re exposed to during the day. Total win!
How to do it:
I recommend a porcelain neti pot because it’s easier to clean and the material surface won’t hang onto anything the way plastic can. Use distilled water to avoid any harmful bacteria and warm it up in the microwave to be close to body temperature; lukewarm not hot or you’ll injure your nostrils. I also use pre-measured packets of saline solution by Nasaline. It’s less fussy than measuring the amount every time, and the ph of the non-iodized salt (NEVER use table salt) mixed with a little baking soda is gentle and non-irritating.
I once landed in the ENT’s office - the first time I was ever there - due to allergies. The doctor’s mantra was, “sprays not pills.” Nasal sprays like Flonase do a great job of clearing hay fever symptoms without over-drying your throat. Our nose produces the mucus that hydrates our throat and vocal cords. You never notice this until illness or allergies cause excess mucus and then suddenly it feels like this natural function is a horrible problem.
Why not anti-histamines? These drugs reduce the body’s ability to produce mucus, and if used regularly they can cause an extremely dry throat which in turn leads to a stiffening of the vocal cords. How do I know? I once took anti-histamines for about 4 months straight, and THAT friends is how I ended up at the ENT wondering why my throat was so dry and tired. I didn’t do any damage to my cords, but I’m lucky. A dry environment can lead to vocal injury from strenuous use or coughing.
Every singer should own a steam inhaler. The end.
The fastest way to hydrate your throat is not drinking water, although that is also important. Steaming re-hydrates the cords and sinuses in minutes, and it opens up the sinuses when they’re congested. It’s a great way to recover from a long night of singing before bed, and a wonderful way to start the day. How often you steam is up to you and what you need. I have gone through periods where I steamed every day, and some where I only steam occasionally as needed. Use your body awareness; you’ll love the way your throat feels.
*Ridiculous yet necessary disclaimer: none of this information is meant to supersede that of your medical professional, blah blah blah, you know what I mean. Be smart people.