Asthma and Singing | How to Manage Asthma for Singers | #DrDan 🎤

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

– I can still remember walking into my two year old son’s room
and finding him turning blue because he was struggling to breathe. After an emergency trip to the hospital and many specialist appointments later, Jaden was diagnosed with asthma. Now fortunately for Jaden,
his chronic childhood asthma has resolved with age,
and he no longer struggles with the shortness of breath
that the condition causes. Of course, unlike Jaden,
many people continue to live with the disease into adulthood. So what happens if that
adult wants to sing? As you might expect, asthma can have a significant
impact on the voice. So today, we’re going
to unpack the condition, its effect on singing, and how
best to manage the symptoms. – [Voiceover] Sound check. Check one, check two. (applause) (upbeat music) – Hello everyone, welcome
to Voice Essentials. My name is Dr. Dan, and I’m a contemporary
singing voice specialist. And it’s my job to help you
realize the full potential of your singing voice. And it’s pretty difficult
to get the most out of your singing voice
when your starting point is simply struggling to
get enough air to live. Fortunately for many sufferers
of asthma, our understanding of the two main components of asthma, inflammation of the airway as
well as airway constriction, have led to the development of excellent medicinal treatments. As is often the case with many prescribed
medicines when taken longterm, there can be side effects. The severity of the side effects caused by asthma medication have
also improved significantly over the past 50 years. But if you’re currently
taking inhaler medications for your asthma, you should be aware of the potential side
effects on your voice. For example, if you
regularly use Ventolin, you may experience a dry mouth, as well as an irritated throat. A dry, irritated vocal tract
may be more susceptible to the development of vocal
pathologies, like nodules, for example. Furthermore, longterm
use of asthma inhalers in their various forms can
lead to a fungal infection, also known as oral thrush. Oral thrush can leave the singer with a severely impaired vocal function, including reduction of
range and painful phonation. But not all voice problems resulting from asthma are a side
effect of medication. The other major cause of voice complaint with asthma sufferers
finds its roots in the lack of well-managed breath
flow we typically associate with healthy singing. – [Voiceover] Sound check. (applause) – Now you might be forgiven
for thinking that the best way to resolve this issue of
consistent breath flow, or the lack thereof, would just require a dedicated implementation of
breath management exercises. Well, yes and no. Yes, because learning to
manage one’s breath is an important process to
undergo for every singer. But no, because deep breathing
can trigger the onset of an asthma attack,
especially for those who suffer from the constricted airway
type of the condition. So when I work with a student
singer who has asthma, we refine our breath management
work to include slow, steady movement of the air,
that some might misinterpret as shallow, to avoid an acute
bronchial constriction attack. As you may have already guessed, managing asthma when you sing
can be a tricky balancing act. When accounting for the
side effects of medication and the need to develop
breath management strategies that facilitate healthy,
sustainable singing that is also stylistically appropriate, the singer suffering from asthma will need to reconcile their need to
sing alongside their arguably more important need to breathe. There is no getting away from the fact that asthma is a disease, and while it is generally well-managed now in the 21st century, it can
still limit life choices to varying degrees for some sufferers. Now before I finish with three
quick fire, not to be missed, pieces of advice for those
of you who live and sing with asthma, be sure to
hit the thumbs up button, if you’re enjoying the video. – [Voiceover] Soundcheck. (applause) – Now I mentioned earlier
in the video that many of the medicines used
to treat asthma can have some negative side effects on the voice. One sure way to help minimize
the detrimental effects of the powdery drugs delivered by inhalers is to use a spacer. Spacers have been shown
to deliver high levels of the active ingredients
deeper into the lungs than an inhaler alone By reducing vocal tract lining
deposits of the particles, side effects such as dryness and oral thrush are also reduced. But even when you do use a spacer, you should immediately
rinse and gargle three times with room temperature water. Rinsing will help to wash away
most of the residual powder, again promoting better vocal tract health. And one final piece of advice. I encourage all my students with asthma to inhale their medication followed by a five to 10 second holding of the breath before exhaling. This will help to promote
the better application of your medicine. And if you think your
singing is suffering because of your asthma, then I highly
recommend you work alongside an experienced singing teacher
or a singing voice specialist to develop strategies
for minimizing the impact of the disease on your singing. Be encouraged, you can
learn to sing with asthma, but you will need to learn to manage your asthma accordingly. I hope today’s video has been helpful. I know that there is a wealth of wisdom in the Voice Essentials
community, so be sure to leave any comments below
offering further helpful tips for managing asthma, as well as any questions
you might still have about asthma and singing. And of course, if this is your first time
you’ve ever watched one of my videos, then I eagerly
invite you to visit my channel and subscribe for more
videos about vocal health, learning to sing, and vocal performance. I look forward to seeing you in the next Vocal Essentials video. I’m Dr. Dan. Sing well.

29 thoughts on “Asthma and Singing | How to Manage Asthma for Singers | #DrDan 🎤

  1. Sir i just turned on my phone and your video notification pop up.And i didn't waste even a second to click on it coz i was looking for exactly this topic.I have been struggling with this problem since childhood.And your video may just change my life.Thank you for this one.😊

  2. my question isn't related to this video​ problem in singing that my voice cracks too early before I reach the point where I have to change into head voice .. plzz help me Dr.dan's

  3. Wow! Thank you for making this video Dr.Dan! You are just so full of knowledge and wisdom!! I have another question to go along with this video. Is there a certain exercise I can do to better my breath support specially for my asthma? I do feel like it's inhibiting my breathing when singing as I feel like I am always out of breath.

  4. Thank you Dan! I find this video is very helpful to me even though my Asthma may only be high intensity exercise or illness like cold or fever induced! very helpful tips to help minimize the side effects the inhalers may have on my voice

  5. Hey there Dr Dan,
    Thank you for discussing this topic today. I don't suffer from asthma, but can empathise with those who do; a challenge in their lives and with singing of course.
    It's great that you've brought attention to it, so that singers our there are that much more aware of their management, especially side effects of treatment.
    Having said that, the area of asthma triggers can also be assessed and dealt with accordingly.Things like outside weather ( temp, humidity, air pressure, pollutants) and indoor allergens…there are so many triggers and they vary from one person to the next.
    Eg. Cold dry air during winter brings on many more asthma attacks than say the milder warmer months..pollen in air during spring etc
    Not saying we need to be experts on weather( some are already are🙂!) but if you think about it all these factors can be controlled to some degree, it's just becoming more mindful of them ( even monitor them) and how it individually affects your breathing and hence singing.
    Excellent advice to get a good caring doctor and vocal coach to manage asthma issues.
    Look after yourselves 😊😊😊

  6. I've got asthma and I 've been singing for many years, sadly my asthma is not going and I need to try this and that so I can continue with my passion which is singing. My doctor tells me that when you give treatment for asthma what they try to do is to make life as much as normal when you talk about breathing and air of course. Singing and asthma are not a good idea, and what you just said here about choosing which is more important, singing or 'to live' is the best pice of advice I have heard. Cheers from Ecuador!

  7. Thanks, Dan. This video's an absolute Godsend! I'm asthmatic- (only mildly, luckily for me, but asthmatic, all the same), and sometimes, that makes singing very tricky for me- (especially on a particularly bad day!) I also find that my Ventolin inhaler gives me a very sore throat sometimes. Luckily, it don't affect me singing-voice that often, but it does give me a very sore throat at times. My dodgy breathing, on the other hand, does pretty often, cause me a lot of problems when I'm singing.

  8. I used to sing all the time as a child (really aspired to be a singer) and I'd practice for hours everyday because I knew I had to strengthen my lungs in order to sing because of my asthma ( to the point of I'd sing while jogging in gym class). I stopped singing when I was 13 because I developed this anxiety about making noise (an odd turn of events). Tried singing class for one day in high school and dropped into another class. Then every time I'd try (which would be every couple of months) even if I was alone the sound of my own voice hurt me to hear so I'd stop right away. Well I'm 18 now and my desire to sing is stronger than ever so I'm trying to get myself back into it no matter how bad I sound.
    But now I'm realizing one thing childhood me thought that turns out to be true: singing actually DID strengthen my lungs and make it easier to breathe. Since I've stopped singing I get winded immediately (a flight of stairs, too long of a sentence), my throat dries faster (can't talk for long), and I'm exhausted a lot faster.
    Guess singing is both apart of me AND my health.

  9. I have allergic asthma, and have many severe allergies. I was a trumpet and vocal major in college. All those years singing and playing my horn strengthened my lungs, so my asthma isn't as bad as it could be. But, I struggle with medicines negatively affecting my voice. I get allergy shots, which help. But I stopped taking my maintenance inhalers and only use rescue when I need it.

  10. Oh yeah, I am okay if I watch what I eat. I have to be on a low histamine diet. High histamines cause my asthma to flare up, but if I don't eat stuff I shouldn't before singing publicly, I am okay.

  11. Asthma is rough anyway, but trying to sing makes it even worse.  I often get "froggy" sometimes.  Any help is appreciated!  High notes can be difficult sometimes.  I have an inhaler and also an oral medication.  And I'm on other medications as well for other reasons.

  12. Thank you so much for this video. I too suffer from asthma and also sing once a week at a local bar. I do use my Ventolin inhaler as needed. I find what does help me a great deal before singing is going for a run (or jog) I do run regularly , not fast mind you, but still run and I notice that afterwards my breathing is so much better!! I think this has really helped strengthen my lung capacity a great deal. I notice that when I don't run my asthma acts up again. In the wintertime I use my treadmill because the cold air makes breathing much worse. Of course I should add though that feeling nervous before singing also makes it act up and I wind up having to use the darn inhaler. Im still working on that one! Enjoyed your video.

  13. Thanks dan. Didn't realise my ventolin could give me nodules. Luckily I don't need it very often and I have a spacer, but I am going to mention this during my next asthma review. Thanks again

  14. I got asthma (2nd) and it’s really bad and I sound like I’m dying and can’t sing and my parents won’t give me singing lessons and I also have a narrow airway and I’m Just about to give up on singing because I can’t sing

  15. Thanks for this video! I'm an adult onset asthmatic who has started singing in choirs again and I've had frequent asthma attacks while singing in choir (but not singing along to the radio). I didn't realize until I watched your video that when I try to sing in choir that I started breathing shallowly, inducing an attack.

  16. I try to drink a lot of water. That helps me when I have to use medications or when I'm getting ready to sing. Being well hydrated helps.

  17. Deep slow breathing helps in Asthma. I have known a music teacher who had asked the Asthma students to take up wind instruments. some of them are totally out of Asthma.

  18. I have severe asthma that requires injections every 2 weeks, tablets every night and steroid inhaler doses morning, noon, evening and night.
    I wish I could sing with ease.

  19. Thank you. I have asthma and copd combined. I have two inhalers One with a spacer and one powder based) and also preventative tablets. Thanks to the tablets, my upper vocal range is coming back 🙂
    I am a drama graduate who used to sing musical theatre regularly. Thank you so much.

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