Singers and Spring Allergies
by Brandon Stoner of Thieves & Lovers
None of the information in this article should be taken as medical advice. If you are having serious health issues, consult a licensed professional. This is just my story.
Environmental allergies didn’t start affecting me until I was about 23, when I moved from Pennsylvania to southern California. I was sick for pretty much the entire first year I was there - new climate, new allergens, and new bacteria. I thought it was fairly normal due to the extreme weather change (it didn’t help that I moved there during winter). But the longer I was there and became more adjusted to the climate, I realized that my allergy problems didn’t really subside. Sure, they evened out somewhat but just like clockwork as soon as it started to warm up in the spring and cool down in the fall (yes, southern California has seasons!) there were those terrifying symptoms that would plague any singer – runny nose, watery eyes, scratchy throat, and sinus headache.
As a singer, allergy symptoms are the bane of my existence. It goes beyond just how you sound, if you’re not feeling it how can you be expected to put on a great show and move your career forward? Like many musicians I’ve never really had access to proper healthcare. We work as hard as we can - often multiple jobs - just to make ends meet and continue the pursuit of our dream. But sometimes the jobs that allow us to continue this pursuit don’t always come with the greatest benefits.
In the short periods where I was able to speak to doctors about my allergy issues, they all told me the same thing – that there are plenty of over-the-counter allergy medications, and to try those. They’re not cheap though, many of them cost upwards of $20 or $30 dollars for a pack and beyond that there was no guarantee that they would work for me.
Everyone’s physiology is different and medication that works for one person might not work for another. So, how do you find out what works the best for your body?
One day I had an idea. Drug companies want to get their product into the mouths of as many people as possible, maybe I could get some free samples? I was in luck. I reached out to a few places and was able to get small sample packs, sometimes only 1 dose but that was enough to try that particular medication out to see how my body reacted to it.
In order to reduce allergy symptoms, allergy medications are designed to reduce mucus – in other words they dry you up. Doctors will tell you to just drink plenty of water, but that didn’t really help me. My voice still sounded a little hoarse no matter what.
At this point in my life I was really getting into acupuncture and holistic medicine. I will always try to go the natural route in regards to health. After some research I was able to reduce my allergy symptoms tremendously by some simple lifestyle changes.
Here are some of the things that I did and would definitely recommend (to anyone, not just those suffering from allergies).
Cut out all red meat
Drastically reduce dairy consumption
Eat as close to nature (fruits and veggies!) as possible
Stop smoking cigarettes!
Go easy on the alcohol
Eat a lot of berries and anti-inflammatory foods that help to reduce overproduction of mucus
I still struggle with seasonal allergies. Worse than ever, actually. Many singers do. But through a combination of taking care of yourself and finding medications that work for you, you can keep the allergies in check and put on the best performance every time.