Regulating vocal cord mucus levels is an important part of voice training. Excess mucus can prevent a voice from performing well and render singing practice unproductive.
Here are ten strategies to decrease excess mucus on the vocal cords:
1. Drink more fluids, especially warm ones.
Water and herbal tea are great for making stubborn mucus in the throat make its way out. Try alkaline water with a ph greater than 8 and make sure not to fill your tea with added sugar and cream.
2. Use a nebulizer with an isotonic saline solution.
Here’s my favorite nebulizer for singers: myvocalmist.com (not an affiliate link). For best results, use this every day 15 minutes before singing. This product helps to cleanse excess mucus while also hydrating the vocal tract.
3. Protect your cilia! (Avoid Smoking)
Cilia are tiny hair-like structures in the lungs that help to move mucus. Smoking damages cilia, thus rendering these structures incapable of clearing out mucus.
4. Clean up your diet.
While food sensitivity varies from one person to another, a diet full of processed foods, dairy products, excess sugar, and alcohol is often a large cause of excess mucus.
5. Humidify your air.
It may sound surprising, but dry air can cause a buildup of thick mucus in the throat as your body tries to humidify air before it enters your lungs. Running a humidifier in your room while you sleep can be a game-changer for your mucus levels.
6. Change your air filter.
Air filters help to remove mold, dust, and other contaminants from the air in your home. Invest in a high quality filter to get the best results. Make sure you stay on top of replacing air filters at the proper times.
7. Reduce exposure to allergens.
Allergens irritate the mucous membrane in the respiratory tract, which often causes an overproduction of mucus. Everything from pollen to cat dander can cause excess mucus in the throat.
8. Manage acid reflux. Beware of silent reflux.
Acid reflux is a common source of excess mucus in the throat. Check out leading acid reflux researcher Dr. Jamie Koufman’s article for singers here.
9. Beware of medications.
While they are too many to list, countless medications can cause a buildup of thick mucus in the throat. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medicine may be causing this and what you can do to mitigate its effects.
10. Avoid overusing your voice.
Vocal inflammation from overuse causes mucus to build in the throat. In general, singers should make lifestyle sacrifices in order to preserve the voice in a healthy and relaxed state. This means no shouting at events, not trying to speak in loud environments, etc.
One Step at a Time
In order to avoid burnout, don’t try changing too much at once. The best thing any singer can do for their voice is to never stray off the path of improvement. If this list has revealed multiple items that need change in your life, just change one at a time, maybe one or two per week. Every small step makes a difference!
Benny Meza is a Master Associate at Brett Manning Studios in Nashville, TN. He’s taught over 7,000 vocal lessons and has worked with clients from Warner Music, RCA, Universal Music Group, and many others.
Book a Skype or In-Person lesson with Benny today!