Singing With Allergies: Medical Maintenance Part 2

Singing can be difficult—after all, there’s a lot to think about when trying to make your best possible sound. BUT singing with allergies can feel impossible.

You’ll notice that singing with allergies is most difficult when the weather changes. During the changing of seasons, allergens (the things which cause allergic reactions) are most prominent. When the pollen or ragweed count climbs, people who suffer from allergies rely on medicine to help them function. Most people take antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction. However, if you’re a singer with allergies, antihistamines can severely affect the way you perform. It’s very important to know how to be your best advocate when you’re singing with allergies—no matter what the medications tell you!

First, know that antihistamines always have a drying effect on your vocal cords. Taking an anithistamine like Benadryl or Zyrtec will cause the mucous membranes of your vocal cords to become exceedingly dry, which makes it hard for your vocal cords to function properly. This means that allergy medications can actually make it harder for you to sing than the allergies themselves!

Sometimes, allergic reactions become so bad that you need to take an antihistamine. If you’re sneezing all the time or if your eyes are red, itching, and watering, you need an allergy medication to alleviate those symptoms. In those instances, taking an antihistamine is unavoidable. BUT this doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your singing ability to get some relief from your allergies!

The best way to keep an antihistamine from drying out your vocal cords before a performance is to be careful about how much of the antihistamine you’re taking. You might not need the full dose—especially if it makes you sleepy! Even medications like Benadryl, Zyrtec, Allegra, Xyzal, and Claritin—which recommend one pill per dose—have pills that can be cut in half or even in fourths. Just use your fingernail or a butter knife to cut the pill into quarters. Take one quarter of your usual antihistamine, and see if the smaller dose alleviates your symptoms. You might find that only taking a fourth of a pill helps you to keep from sneezing—and it won’t make you feel nearly as tired!

If one fourth of a Benadryl or Zyrtec doesn’t quite do the trick, try taking another fourth. You may find that a smaller dose achieves the same effect without any side effects.

If you have to take an antihistamine when you’re singing with allergies, consider using a humidifier while you sleep. The humidifier will help you keep your vocal cords moist and prevent your mucous membranes from getting dehydrated. Just remember to clean your humidifier frequently so you’re not breathing in contaminated water!

Singing with allergies might FEEL impossible, but if you use a combination of good technique and a conservative amount of medication, you’ll be back to full form in no time. To learn more about how you can support singing with allergies through good technique, contact the Brian Schexnayder Vocal Studio to schedule a lesson today. Happy singing!

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