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Chronic phlegm/post nasal drip

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So for the past 4 months I've had really thick mucus on my voice causing me much trouble going high in pitch and holding notes quietly and cleanly.

It's far worse in the morning when the voice cracks around C4-D4 or so and later in the day when I've warmed up and had lots of water etc (or after physical exercise) I can get higher, but it's really causing trouble above passaggio. Basically after F4 the quality is always compromised or I can't get the note at all, it affects lower notes too but I can overcome that.

I was at the ENT yesterday and he said my vocal folds looks just fine, which is what I suspected because I use good technique and have good vocal hygiene in general.

Basically the problems came with the post nasal drip 4 months ago which I still have, thick mucus in the back of the throat.

I tried treating for reflux maybe two months ago, took proton pump inhibitors for two weeks, had my bed at an incline and stopped eating 3h before bed but it didn't help.

Is there any solution to this??

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I read this a couple of times before I could think of how to respond. So, can you still do the higher notes, they are just not as quiet and clean as you would like them? Do they sound a bit rattly because of the phlegm bubbling in the breeze, so to speak, or even literally?

So, you basically have a rattle that others spend hard-earned money trying to learn?

Or is it really loss of range?

And, I don't think the folds are not capable of creating a pitch but a blocked up sinus area could certainly dampen away from good resonance, causing you to push harder just to get there.

I get sinus drainage now and then, too, part of the price of where I live. I just sing, anyway, though I may not always go to the tippy-top of my range (C6) every day.

And there are times when singing has helped loosen up phlegm or mucus. So, I finish a song, go blow my nose, then get back to it. Or clear my throat during an instrumental part of a song.

In spite of that, I don't know if my thoughts on it can help. Some otc remedies might dry up the mucus but then they do the job too well and dry you out, period. Or make you cough too much. Some meds for clearing congestion do so by making you cough. Which, at the very least, inconvenient when you are singing. So, approach remedies with care. The best stuff is the natural stuff. Inhaling steamy salted water worked for my asthma, as a child. You get the loosening effect of the salt and the hydrating effect of the steamy water, like a shower.

Counter-intuiitive as it may seem, you might need a humidifier for your room. Sometimes, the body's response to dry air is to produce mucus and fluid in an attempt to keep you hydrated. Which would explain why mornings are woeful but later in the day, especially in a different room or environment isn't so bad, after all.

Some singers, like Geoff Tate, would travel separately from the band, not because of attitude but because of climate. The rest of the band wants the air conditioning on, which dries him out. So, when he turns it off, they get get mad at him. So, when possible, he travels separately. Like the time QR was performing at a club near the Sturgis Rally. He and his wife hopped on his Harley-Davidson Roadking and rode from Seattle to just outside of Sturgis. Sure, he's exposed to a number of pollens, though he wears a rider's mask, but at least he was not dried out by an air conditioner. An air conditioner, in making the air colder, causes moisture to condense out of it. So, the cooler air is now also drier.

This will also explain why you might crack in an air conditioned room but do okay outside, in the winter time. For the latter is a damp cold and dampness is good for the voice.

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For example this morning I was struggling with D4s (voice randomly breaking, like singing with a cold). One mucus-dissolving pill and two hours later I've reached a couple of bad sounding Bb4, B4 C5 etc. F.ex. when my voice currently is at it's best, reaching a D#4 is maybe a 1.5/10 effort, while it was totally unavailable this morning due to the hefty mucus.

The thick phlegm is interfering with the vibration of the folds, and perhaps sinus phlegm is blocking resonance too!

In the morning there is a little bit of yellow mucus from the sinus area, and a good bit of clear phlegm. I did a saline wash this morning and it cleared some out, gonna try doing this every day to see if it kills away whatever is causing the mucus.

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  • 1 month later...

Okay well I got allergy tested and positive for dust mites, cats and grass.

Probably dust mites are the reason, trying to remove any source of it with allergy bedding see if it works. It's pretty frustrating because my voice is useless now...

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Another option, which can take up to a few years of treatments is innoculations. The problem is not so much the foreign body as is your body's reaction to the substance. So, shots of small doses of the allergen are injected to allow the body to acclimate and quit reacting so harshly.

When I was a child, I had asthma with several allergies. And throughout my teens, I received such injections.

Now, I am indestructible and immortal.


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I've had postnasal drip as long as I can remember, almost always have one side of my sinuses or the other stopped up, except in humid weather. I know for myself the sinus blockage, even when partial, can wreak havoc on my ability to produce and maintain pitch, especially around 2nd passagio (about A4 for me). 1st passagio is still doable because it's mostly pharynx/mouth resonance, but as soon as I adjust resonance into the sinus cavity things start flying apart in an uncontrolled yodel. The funny thing is, it doesn't seem to have much affect on my upper range, C5+, only that Gb4-B4 stretch. I sleep with a humidifier pointed at me and have just started doing saline flushes of my sinuses, hopefully that'll help me clear up!

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Maybe you should try and find the root cause of your PND too?

I guess for a trained singer this would be a bother but for myself who isn't "fully-trained" it makes learning new coordination so very difficult. It's like trying to learn how to ride a bike when someone keeps pushing you (lol).

The congestion is not that bad for me in the sense that I can breathe fine, but I snort out thick phlegm and it's affecting my singing a lot. I'm still trying to solve it though, also trying a wheat free diet for 3 weeks now and another reflux treatment just incase.

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Certainly, diet can help, some. Once I got into drinking fat-free milk, which I think tastes better, my heartburn went away. I also cut out ice cream. And daily helpings of cookies. And fried foods. And thick sauces. And once dropped about 30 lbs doing that. At 6' 6", I once weighed about 254 lbs. Now, I average between 225 and 230, which is okay for my height.

As for allergies, not a lot I can do about that. I live in north Texas and we are surrounded by allergens at all times. But I don't let it stop me.

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