Spring Allergies: What it Means for Your Voice

by Mark A. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.

Spring allergies can significantly alter the voice. Voice is not simply formed
at the vocal cords. In fact, the vocal cords themselves simply produce a sound very similar to the sound that pursed lips produce as air is blown through the mouthpiece of a trumpet. When the mouth piece is connected to a resonating chamber such as a trumpet it produces a sound that is characteristically identified as a trumpet.
As singers, and speakers, our resonating chamber is everything that is located above the vocal cord -- the throat, mouth and nose. This resonating chamber is what gives our voice its characteristic sound. Alterations in the
resonating chamber due to allergy-induced congestion and inflammation will change the characteristics of our voice. These changes in addition to posterior nasal drainage can put extra strain on the singer and can lead to vocal cord damage (specifically chronic cough and irritation).
Nasal steroid sprays are frequently very beneficial in treating these symptoms while having very little negative impact on vocal cord function. They are obtained only by prescription. See your primary doctor or an otolaryngologist if you suffer from these symptoms.

Mark A. Williams, M.D., Ph.D. is an otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose & Throat doctor) in Nashville, TN. He is the founder of the Voice Care Center of Nashville (www.voicecarecenter.com), where he specializes in the prevention and treatment of voice disorders of singers, performers and professional voice users. In addition to his medical doctorate, he holds a doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) in Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics. His experience as a surgeon, scientist and singer/songwriter permits him to provide voice, ear, nose and throat care to his patients with unique and unparalleled insight.
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