How Allergy Medications Affect the Singing Voice
Allergy medications are sometimes a necessary evil for singers with allergies.
However, the more informed you are about how medications affect your voice, the better you can prepare.
Before turning to the following medications, I recommend trying natural remedies for allergies first.
The important thing to note about almost all allergy medication is its ability to dry out your cords.
Be sure you drink way more than a singer’s daily amount of water when you’re on allergy medication.
I’ve provided a rough estimate for each medication, but obviously every voice is different – do what feels right for you!
The following allergy medications are listed from best to worst as far as your voice is concerned.
As always, check with a doctor and do your own research to determine what is best for you!
1. Nasal Sprays*** (Flonase Sensimist, Nasonex, etc.): If your allergy symptoms consist mostly of nasal congestion, eye irritation, and post-nasal drip, nasal sprays are the best for you as far as your voice is concerned.
Nasal sprays reduce inflammation in the nose and therefore stop congestion. Often, they stay in the nose and don’t make their way to the throat at all – keeping your cords safe from the typical drying effects of allergy meds.
- That said, you may need to experiment a little with these. Some nasal sprays contain scents that are intended to be pleasing but could really agitate your nose more and make your reaction worse. Other sprays may allow too much medication through the pump, causing a worse stuffy-nose feeling or causing the medication to drip past your nasal cavity and irritate the throat. (For what it’s worth, after trying Nasonex, Nasacort, Flonase, Afrin, and other sprays, my favorite by far is Flonase Sensimist – no scent and a light enough spray it won’t feel like you’re shoving liquid up your nose #win. It’s different for everyone though!)
- ***BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL about what kind of nasal spray you’re buying. Daily over-the-counter allergy nasal sprays are not addictive. However, stronger decongestant nasal sprays (even those found over-the-counter) can be addictive or even make your symptoms worse, causing you to rely more and more on that medication. As I’ve said before, do your research!
2. Oral Antihistamines (Zyrtec, Claritin, Benadryl, etc.) try to prevent or stop the immune system’s over-reaction to allergens.
However, as singers, you should know that these medications “dry you out“! Add at least 8-16 ounces more water to your daily intake.
3. Decongestants (Mucinex, Sudafed, etc.) decrease the swelling and phlegm-production as a result of allergies. These dry you out even more! Add another 8 ounces.
4. Super-Decongestants* (Mucinex-D, Sudafed-D… anything that you have to bring a card to a pharmacy for them to get from behind-the-counter) dry you out MOST!
Only take these if you’re super, super, super congested and take them with a HUGE glass of water. THEN add at least 16 more ounces of water to your daily intake. (*Not what they’re actually called but I needed a term for them.)
5. Throat Remedies: Sprays, Cough Drops, Lozenges, etc. don’t necessarily help allergies, they just soothe the throat if you’re feeling the effects of allergies there.
This article goes more in-depth on different throat medications and remedies for singers. Hope this helped!
Comment below on your experiences with different allergy medications as a singer!