Singing during allergy season

The sun is out again, and for most people that’s a great thing. However, some of us have experiences with hayfever and allergies which can make it more difficult to sing. Allergies can play havoc with your breathing and tone, as swelling in your nose and throat interfere with the systems we usually draw upon to sing. It’s a lot like trying to sing with a cold.

  • Obviously the best thing for allergies is prescribed medication, but it’s worth mentioning to your doctor that you’re a singer, as it can steer them towards recommending a medication that doesn’t dry your throat out as much.
  • Many allergy medications work by drying out mucus but this means a dry throat. Even if you’re using over the counter medicine, it’s advisable to up your water intake to help offset this. Try to always keep a bottle to hand and make sure you top up before, during and after practice.
  • For those who are lucky enough to have minor allergies, herbal teas can offer some relief, in particular those with the tried-and-true combination of lemon and honey. Both of these ingredients help to soothe a throat and act as disinfectants.
  • We also recommend steaming. Leaning over a body of steaming water and taking deep breaths helps get moisture deep inside your repository system to fight any dry patches and swelling. If you’re not comfortable leaning over a bowl for long periods, steam inhalers can be found in some stores. We recently found some in Home Bargains for less than £4. Adding a few drops of lavender oil to the water can also help calm down any inflammation.
  • Warming up the voice is always important but when you’re suffering from hayfever, it becomes even more vital. Take things slowly and make sure you aren’t over exerting yourself. This will help you find your new limit and ensure safe and productive practice sessions.
  • During hayfever bouts, the vocal cords become less flexible (mostly due to dehydration) so it’s advisable that you don’t test your upper limits too hard. Hitting a new highest note can wait until after the pollen count has dropped.
    For the more adventurous of you, get a nice hot curry. The turmeric found in curry dishes is believed to help reduce inflammation, while capsaicin, the chemical that makes chillies spicy, helps to open up the nasal passages and can reduce that binged up feeling.

Unlike a cold, you can’t pass hayfever on to someone else, so you can still attend practice. Just pace yourself and take care of your body until it passes.