Singing with Allergies

Singing with Allergies

Sinus congestion, fatigue, runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches…many of us experience at least some of these symptoms when the pollen count is high. Allergies can play havoc with your voice in many ways, creating wheezy breathing, stuffy noses and irritated throats.

However, many of the antihistamines and decongestants that might offer temporary relief are very drying for the throat and can cause new problems over the long run. If you must take medication, make sure that your doctor understands that you are a singer and try to come up with the least harmful medication for your symptoms.

Alternatively, there are many more natural ways you can manage your symptoms. First of all, trying to cut down on the amount of pollen you are exposed to can be helpful. On days when the pollen count is high (you can find out on websites like, don’t exercise outside or at least not first thing in the morning when it is highest. Wear a hat, wash your hair before going to bed and change your pillowcase often to cut down on exposure.

Many people get relief from congestion by rinsing the nasal passages regularly with a saline solution. The traditional treatment is with a neti pot; I like to use a sinus rinse made by NeilMed which is easier to use but just as effective. It is widely available at drug stores.

Steam treatments are very good, especially if the congestion is in your lungs. Try heating a pot of water on the stove and putting a towel over your head to breathe in the steam. A few drops of menthol or eucalyptus in the water feel very nice. An alternative is a personal steam inhaler made by Vicks, which is more convenient, especially if you are on tour!

Finally, some health centers offer immunotherapy (including locally at the Rothfeld Center in Arlington, MA). After testing for specific trees and grasses, the patient is treated with sublingual drops or injections that contain small doses of the allergens, using the same principle as a vaccine.

Since allergies are actually the result of an imbalanced immune response, a healthy immune system may help to keep the body from overreacting. Getting enough rest, eating well, managing stress, exercising, etc. are even more important now. Nutritional supplements such as Vitamin B complex and C can be helpful. And of course, as always, drink lots of water!


  1. Barbra Dale Solomon :

    I know so many singers and perfeormers that I try to coach with all of symtoms re. Allergies and immune system defense.
    This is a very important phase of having a healthy performance . Too many talented people
    tell themselves that they’re sick, and cancel jobs and lessons, not knowing how to help themselves.

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