Sinus Infection as a Singer

This week I got my first ever sinus infection. For 6 days I misdiagnosed it as allergies (because it’s Austin and there is always an imminent threat of allergies in Austin.) During those 6 days I also mis-treated my ailment, which gave my persistent hacking cough the opportunity to thoroughly abuse my vocal cords and make me horse.

Which is an emergency situation for a singer.

Now that I’m properly diagnosed I’m able to make much more of a positive impact on the symptoms, and my babies (vocal cords) are on the mend. I would love to share my wisdom with you, because treating this as a singer has very different priorities than an average Joe.

  1. Stop the cough ASAP. Coughing involves the vocal cords violently slamming into each other. It’s one of the fastest ways to vocal damage there is and singers need to make this our top priority. What’s working for me: Expectorant & Cough Suppressant pills (like Mucinex) with Dextromethorphan and Guaifenesin. Also Chloraseptic total Sore Throat + Cough lozenges. As singers we tend to be hyper-aware of sensations in our throat and are probably more likely to feel irritation than muggles. These lozenges have two anesthetics (Benzocaine and Menthol) and more Dextromethorphan cough suppressant.

  2. Vocal rest. I debated making this number one, but you could be on full vocal rest and the coughing would still shred your vocal folds. Ideally don’t sing at all until this whole situation is fully healed. Speak as little as possible, and gently. Speaking quietly on your tone is better than whispering, but beware of rasp and vocal fry.

  3. Treat the sinus infection. My case seems to be treatable at home, but you may need to see a doctor. In my case, doing a warm saliene lavage with my neti pot three times a day is working wonders. Make sure to use purified water, and if you have too much heat or too much salt it will be unbelievably painful. I test this by gargling with it first.

  4. Humidify and drink fluids. This is standard practice anyway for singers, but I’m using my personal humidifier as often as possible right now. I’ll also be taking it to work with me today to use between students.

  5. Sleep and eat well. These two are also essential always as a singer, as our body is our instrument, but I’ve been finding both of these to be way harder during this sinus infection. The symptoms make me just want comfort food all the time, and the cough and clogged sinuses keep me awake. Now having the right treatments is helping a TON.