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nasal congestion and singers swallowing air!

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Just went to my gastroenterologist and discussed with him the problem with my perception of acidic reflux fumes and ensuing nasal congestion. He thought it was probably due to my swallowing air while singing, and he said this is a common problem among singers. Swallow air, I said? I'll test out his opinion for the next few weeks.

Anyhow, one way of preventing this is good posture. If one stands straight, while breathing in during singing, the muscles of the throat significantly reduces air going down the esophagus to the stomach. I also suspect if one's head is further straightened, less air goes up the nasal cavity. If one slouches, then more air gets into the stomach, which then releases the air eventually, while one's singing, and the nose produce more mucus so as to protect the more pH sensitive nasal cavity.

I hope this works. Getting good posture is not easy though. He also suggested some probiotics.

I had tested my posture changes prior to visiting him, and had already noticed it does change the amount of acidic gas I perceived going into my nasal cavity I'll try to report how much total change can now occur.

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First attempt:

My belief is that technique also affects this issue of nasal congestion partly due to singing. Acid reflux makes the situation much worse.

My first set of opinions on acid reflux mist,

1. If acid reflux mist, reduce singing 2.5 hours after eating,

2. When singing, aim to send the air straight through the middle of the open mouth and open the mouth wider,

3. Uplift the chest and head, which will automatically block air going in and out of the esophagus,

4. Loosen jaw. This and #2 should allow air to flow out mouth faster (and less into nasal cavity). My guess is that the mouth can handle slightly acidic air better than the nasal cavity.

5. I'll also take a guess that one wants clear nose as well, before any potential mucus build-up. I don't understand this, but if there's some obstruction to begin with, the acid mist can't exit easily, and once it hits the blocked nasal cavity, I would guess that mucus forms and can't leave properly. This results in inflammation and probably more mucus build-up.

6. Drink lots of water while singing--not for the vocal cords. I always thought it was strange why people were advocating drinking so much water singing anyhow. The vocal cords is mucus lubricated. But drinking the water would reduce the amount of acid vapors coming up, which affects the nasal pharynx. I'm aware people do get vocal nodes, but in my own personal experience, my nasal pharynx failed on me often, and my vocal cords never did.

These should reduce the amount of air from the stomach going to the nasal cavity, reduce mucus build-up, and, simultaneously help one sing better too. Amazing how illnesses can be reduced by proper singing technique to begin with.

If these don't work, proton inhibitor, GAviscon, diet, etc. on fumes (which carry some liquid acids).

If you have liquid acid reflux, first raise the head of your bed. Using pillow may not work, because esophagus is more opened if stooped forward using pillow. You want to raise your chest basically, and your head goes parallel with the chest.

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And another set of speculations:

I had always wondered why many people's voices sounded lower and more hoarse as they got older. Much of this would be, of course, cigarette on vocal cords, stresses and strains, and then some kinds of contractions of muscles as one gets older. Now I question this.

Everytime I had voice problems, I discovered it was due to my nasal-pharynx primarily and not near my vocal cords. It was due to mucus build-up of some kind that affected my nasal-pharynx. Once this was cleared, I sang better. This mucus-increase explanation would also better explain the experiments that showed acid reflux suffers sang better with proton inhibitors that reduced acid, which would also reduce mucus formation on nasal-pharynx.

So, my guess is that a major factor to the sound of older voices is simply due to mucus build-up on the nasal-pharynx due to slightly more acidic mist, resulting from minor acid reflux that most older people get.

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Morning Chen :) Hey do yu perhaps have allergies?? (re the mucus thing??) i supposedly DONT but DO find myself with a mucus build up at times....when desperate, i use a childrens strength antihistamine, or an organic (full strength) one if I have it with me.

also, think Hilary says lemon juice (added to water..) will help cut through the mucus in the throat...depends on where the mucus problem is as to what to consider taking.....

also, again confused on "aiming the air, and allowing air flow out of the mouth". Have you read Brent Monohans book, "the Singers Companion" I believe...? Discusses such....

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I just found out from an allergist MD that bromelin (in addition to Mucinex) will cut through mucus! Bromelin is a natural substance (pineapple extract) and can be purchased at organic food stores (or so I've been told). Mucinex is time-release, so will last longer. Bromelin's probably a lot safer for long-term usage.

Yes, I have allergies, and are taking the treatments.

Mucus is a protection mechanism for the nose. My layman's understanding is that with allergies, the mucus is hyperactive (I'm not sure my or healthcare's explanation is quite right). Mucus can also protect against slight acidity. Again, based on layman's understanding.... stomach & esophagus linings are more acid tolerant than nasal lining, and as acid enters nasal cavity, the nose produces excess mucus.

Ailments in the ear-nose-throat, in my opinion, are very complicated. Difficult to determine is it allergies, acid reflux, virus, and a few others I can't recall. But one I hadn't heard of before was swallowing air, particularly by singers! Changed my way of thinking about all this.

No, I hadn't read Monohan's book.

My opinion on "aiming the air".... When Steve Frazer discussed in the resonance thread how to create a standing wave with maximum resonance just outside the mouth, I played around with this for some time. There are other techniques I've perused that aim the sound at different places--to produce different sounds. My eventual conclusion is that the maximum point of sound is just outside the mouth--by resonance, as Steve said. (But, this is not all methods of resonance).

Each time I adjusted resonance, I noticed that air flow goes in different directions in the mouth. Obviously, the way the air flows affects whether the air is going more out of the nose or the mouth. So, if one has slightly acidic breath (due to acid reflux), then one should be able to reduce the amount of acid mist going through the nose by minimizing the pressure in the oral cavity and by adjusting the head's positioning so that the air mist coming up from the trachea is aimed less toward the nasal cavity passage. This would be to aim the airflow straight through the middle of a wide-open mouth, which also happens to be mouth position at maximum resonance.

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