For singers who struggle with excessive mucus, this post gives you a reliable armamentarium of solutions,
using 7 essential remedies for
overproduction of mucus in your throat.
It’s a problem that can instantly ruin your singing. Let’s talk about likely causes and most successful remedies. I’m delighted to share what I know.
This all comes from years of my own painstaking investigation and from my personal experience as a classically trained performing singer. You are not alone, and there is a good chance I can help!
Have you seen what the vocal folds (cords) look like?
(Important: You absolutely should not attempt to examine your own vocal anatomy. Please don’t do that! It’s dangerous! We can discuss more on this soon, I hope.)
No reason to be scared of basic vocal hygiene. If you would prefer not to see how the anatomy looks, you can choose to not use this next link.
But to get a sense of how normal vocal cords (folds) actually look, this is a great article with some helpful images:
Your vocal cords have surface areas that are covered with clear thin mucus. This is the normal mucosal lining. It actually covers the surface of your whole respiratory system. The mucosal lining is marvelously fundamental to your vocal health and therefore to your singing.
The mucosal lining must be kept moist.
Remember this: we actually sing on that thin lining. Keeping the normal mucosal lining happy and intact is worth its weight in gold to your entire voice and to your singing.
Why Does it Matter?
–Because it’s quicksand.
The more you “power through,” singing with excess phlegm, the more overproduction of mucus in your throat. We’ve probably all experienced that it’s easy to actually “sing yourself” into laryngitis.
Triggers of Excess Mucus in Your Throat
Lots of people find that eating and drinking certain foods and beverages can cause overproduction of mucus in your throat. And you might have experience with other triggers, not covered in this post. For example the issue of reflux can be very problematic for singers. Reflux is a problem originating from the stomach and not from the respiratory system. So we will have a separate post to address the problem of reflux and singing.
The Usual Suspects
In this post, let’s discuss three of the biggest troublemakers, the main causes for overproduction of mucus in your throat. Then let’s get into what I know from experience to be the very best solutions.
Excess phlegm is produced when the mucosal lining is irritated to the point of becoming dehydrated and inflamed. Our bodies have profound wisdom. For example, the body understands when the mucosal lining has become dried out and inflamed, needing repair. Producing lots of thick mucus is the body’s defense, compensating for the disrupted normal mucosal lining.
Why Mucus in Your Throat Won’t Go Away
What exactly causes the mucosal lining to become dehydrated and inflamed, triggering excessive mucus? Well, as soon as the lining is dehydrated it will become inflamed, and then you can count on a barrage of thick mucus. So, how does the mucosal lining become dehydrated?
In my experience, dehydration of the mucosal lining occurs when we are exposed to any of these troublemakers:
1. Neglecting water intake.
2. Common cold virus, including flu and other respiratory viruses.
3. Allergies, including reactions to medications.
The 7 Essential Remedies
Remedy Number 1: H2O
For dehydration, the obvious treatment is to drink a lot more water, every single day. Unless otherwise directed by your doctor, drink at least 80 (eighty) ounces of water per day. You should drink clean and unflavored water.
It is certainly okay for you to squeeze fresh lemon into your water, but please keep this to a minimum. (Sometimes the acidity of lemon juice can itself become an irritant. Therefore, please use common sense.)
It can be very helpful to gently heat your water before drinking it. Plain hot water will cause the mucus to become thinner and much easier to clear out.
Not So Hot!
If the water you drink is too hot, obviously you can be physically burned. This will be totally counterproductive to solving the problem of excessive mucus. You must use common sense at all times. Remember that your vocal anatomy is delicate and irreplaceable.
In any case, we want to do better than merely thinning the mucus. The goal is eliminating or at least greatly reducing the overproduction of mucus in your throat. And from personal experience I know this is entirely possible, when we focus on the best solutions.
About Dry Mouth and Dry Throat, and Reaction to Medication
Here again, the dried out mucosal lining will react with overproduction of mucus in your throat. If you must continue taking a medication which is likely causing excessive drying of the mucosal lining, sometimes drinking water will not quite resolve this one.
Water, Water Everywhere
Remember that when the trouble is likely coming from a medication, drying everything out, your first line of defense is still drinking at least 80 to 90 ounces per day of good clean water. However, it is equally important that you also use something to lubricate and soothe the mucosal lining.
Please see remedy number Four below, Throat Coat Tea, which has the powerful herbal lubricant called slippery elm. This will help hold moisture into the mucosal lining.
Also the over-the-counter drugstore product called Biotene, which is an oral rinse for dry mouth, might provide some topical relief. Be sure to check with your doctor, before introducing anything new into your regimen of prescription medications.
A singer who is dealing with the problem of medication causing dryness of the mucosal lining should also consider using the herbal remedy aloe vera gel or aloe vera juice. This will hold moisture into the tissues of the mucosal lining, and it will be soothing and lubricating.
For more information on using aloe vera gel or juice, please read this related post.
Remedy Number 2: Garlic Broth
Next, we look at remedies for common cold virus. How to get rid of phlegm in your throat?! This problem definitely has a way of hanging on for many days or even weeks. Understandably, singers become frustrated — an understatement!
You can read a post on natural remedies for respiratory viruses — colds and flu — found here.
And please do check the Recommended Products page of this website as well.
To begin, increase your sleeping hours, increase your water intake, and increase your intake of vitamin C.
Our bodies do not make or store vitamin C. Therefore, we must get vitamin C from foods and from supplements.
Garlic is rich in vitamin C. If you like the taste of garlic, it can be wonderfully soothing, body and soul, to sip on piping hot garlic broth. Here’s a simple recipe for garlic broth.
Remedy Number 3: Elderberry and Zinc Lozenges
At the first sign of a common cold virus, start these lozenges immediately.
It’s an excellent combination of immune-boosting ingredients and a great cold remedy. These lozenges will work to reduce your inflamed mucosal lining. As a result, thick mucus can be eliminated.
Remedy Number 4: Throat Coat Tea
This tea contains slippery elm, which comes from the inner bark of the North American elm tree. Slippery elm will go a long way toward healing the normal mucosal lining. Also available in lozenges, slippery elm can be a tremendous help for your singing. You might want to carry a package of slippery elm lozenges in your briefcase, purse, backpack, etc.
Throat Coat Tea also has a little licorice, which has it’s own anti-inflammatory effect, in addition to the nice flavor.
Remedy Number 5: Yerba Maté
Allergies are the next major trigger for overproduction of mucus in your throat. Here you will find a separate post with my specific recommendations for treating allergy symptoms – lots of them. If I had to pick just one allergy remedy, it would be this one, immediately below, 100%!
Yerba Maté Tea
You definitely will want to try this magical herb, yerba maté!
The tea has a naturally sweet taste and is a powerful treatment for inflammation in general. Yerba maté gives you sustained non-hyper energy and will go a long way toward eliminating overproduction of mucus in your throat.
Increase sleeping hours and increase water intake. Use this breathing exercise to decrease your stress level:
Lots more specific remedies for your allergies, coming soon!
Remedy Number 6: Mullein
How to Get Rid of Phlegm
For mucus buildup in your throat, this remedy can be your whole solution! The herb called mullein is a common roadside weed, known to be chocked full of mucilage. This will greatly thin mucus and often completely clear it out.
Here is a good quality brand of mullein capsules I have used myself with much success:
As mentioned, this plant is a common roadside weed. But you should not attempt to harvest this yourself. There are credible reports of people foraging in the wild and harvesting herbs, who misidentified plants and later became fatally ill. Don’t take any such chance or risk whatsoever, please!
Remedy Number 7: Nasal Lavage
If you are suffering from sinus congestion, please try nasal lavage – but not without good instructions. Here are some reliable instructions for nasal lavage.
Again, this is if the mucus and congestion is actually coming from your nose and sinuses, nasal lavage can help enormously to reduce and actually clear away the mucus from draining from your nose and sinuses into your throat.
Nasal lavage with Alkalol
This product is a unique synergistic combination of ingredients — Alkalol Ingredients. It is an excellent solvent, for temporarily clearing away thick mucus and soothing nasal passages.
Is it Allergies or a Cold? Overproduction of mucus in your throat can be caused by either a respiratory virus or allergies.
These two ailments share many of the same symptoms. How can you tell if you’re experiencing an allergic reaction, or if you are dealing with a respiratory virus?
Personally, I can recognize the small but distinct difference, between how a cold makes me feel sick versus how an allergy attack will affect me. But when it comes to allergies and cold viruses, there must be a million different variations of exactly how each individual is affected. Pay attention, particularly as symptoms are just beginning.
Tune Into Your Body
Respect the signals it is giving you and become more observant.
In time you will begin to sense the difference between a cold and an allergy.
Consider that if you have fever, your symptoms are most likely a cold, not allergies. And it is best to not sing at all, if you have a fever. This is the time to stop and allow your body to rest.
Coughing and headache might well indicate a virus cold, not allergy. Are your symptoms changing a lot every day? This indicates a cold, not allergies.
Body aches are another sign of a cold, not allergies.
If the mucus is thin, watery, and clear, not thick and not discolored, it is most likely due to allergy.
All singers eventually hit the wall and experience a hoarse voice. When this happens, your body is asking you to REST THE VOICE. Please do everything in your power to stop or greatly limit all talking and to get more sleep.
In addition, your must drink more water when the voice is hoarse.
Often a singer will believe it’s okay to keep singing. This is a trap, however. When the voice is fatigued and we still insist upon singing, one thing is certain: a hoarse voice will quickly get worse. In fact, it will become much worse — and fast!
The very best you can do in this situation is rest the voice and really pamper it with more sleep, more water, no singing, and little or no talking, until it is healed.
How long? –This varies. But it can take anywhere from approximately 4-10 days, roughly.
Our doctors are only human. Sometimes despite their best efforts, they simply call it wrong. Or they do not think to order a crucial test. This happens too frequently. It’s miserably frustrating, leaving you without treatment and wasting your time.
The best you can do is ask lots of questions. Ask even more questions, whenever the responses your doctor provides are not clear. If you’re not satisfied with a particular doctor, then it’s probably time to consult a different doctor.
Chronic Sinus Infection
For years I was misdiagnosed, repeatedly told that the cause of my symptoms was “allergies.”
Finally, one doctor thought to order a CT scan of my sinuses. The results showed structural malformations in my nose and sinuses. These were anatomical abnormalities, which I was evidently born with or developed as my body grew into adulthood.
Work with Your Doctor for a Solution
The sinus CT scan showed obstructions for which the only treatment is surgery. Otherwise, I was going to continue to suffer with chronic sinus infections, and this problem was badly interfering with my singing.
Sinus surgery is generally done using endoscopes, with no external incisions. I did have this surgery, and it was a complete cure for my problem.
The surgery itself is not so bad, and the recovery is roughly a few weeks. When you have a wonderful ENT specialist surgeon, it’s likely you’ll have a very favorable result. The whole surgery experience is totally worth the reward. What a huge relief to have an actual cure for chronic sinus infections!
Ask me about private singing lessons! You are welcome to email me directly: Gretchen@SingingAndYou.com. Details are available on request and I’m so eager to hear from you!
More to Come!
Because there is so much variation within how our individual bodies respond and react, this subject is ideal for discussing. We have much to learn from each other!
Which remedies have you tried so far, especially any that are not mentioned in this post? Which remedies work best for you, and when do you know to start using them?
Add your thoughts and comments below. Eager to have a fascinating discussion with valued readers such as you!
This post has delved into the overproduction of mucus in your throat: 7 essential remedies!
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