Singers and Asthma

Weekly Teaching Tip – August 3, 2014
by Dr. Steven Sims
The link is Wynonna Judd’s story.

The myths about asthma rang from people believing that asthma is no big deal to those who believe that having asthma would prevent a singer from ever having a successful career.

While a breathing problem necessarily affects singing, breathing training is effective in asthmatics as well as those people with perfect lungs.

In my practice, one of the problems I encounter frequently is hoarseness from the asthma medications. Â Advair has become very popular amongst prescribing physicians. Â However, most Laryngologists are familiar with the chemical laryngitis and hoarseness that inhaled Advair often causes.

Ask your doctor about Dulera and Asmanex, both of which cause less irritation to the vocal folds. Â I also still believe it’s helpful to rinse out your mouth with water after using the inhaler.

There are some reports that suggest that the vocal muscles shrivel (or atrophy) with long-term inhaled steroid use. Â Also, inhaled steroids do make patients more susceptible to opportunistic infections and fungal laryngitis (basically, thrush of the vocal folds) is not all that uncommon.

I would never recommend that anyone stop taking their asthma medications as, contrary to what believe, asthma still kills over 3,000 a year. Â However, I always recommend that singers converse with their doctors and make sure they are their own advocates when it comes to medications that can affect the voice.

Be well.

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