How to Eliminate Mucus for Singing

Written by jamey schrick
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Singing is a wonderful form of self-expression that you can enjoy even without being a professional. Yet bringing your singing to a performance level--and maintaining a healthy voice while doing so--requires you to take special care of your voice with disciplined regimens. Adopting these careful behaviours will help you safely eliminate mucus from your vocal cords and keep a strong, healthy voice.

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    Warm up your vocal cords. Vocal cords require stretching before strenuous use. Jumping right into singing without properly warming up can damage your cords, perhaps even permanently. Warming up also helps clear your vocal cords of any mucus or phlegm build-up, which can negatively impact your singing.

    Vibrate your vocal cords on a gentle growl low in your vocal range. Gradually increase the amount of air passing through your vocal cords without increasing the volume or raising the pitch. Excess mucus should move up off your vocal cords into your throat, where it can be swallowed.

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    Avoid coughing or clearing your throat. Doing either will violently slam your vocal cords together. This will not only harm the tissue of the cords (and cause permanent damage over time), but will actually create even more mucus to protect the irritated tissue--creating a vicious cycle that will rapidly injure your vocal cords.

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    Quit smoking. Alongside the increased risk of lung or throat cancer, smoking induces the production of copious amounts of mucus, reduces lung capacity and causes swelling and irritation throughout your throat and lungs (which, again, produces mucus).

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    Monitor what else you put into your body. The loss of your healthy voice is one of the first indicators of an imbalance or toxicity in your body.

    Avoid eating dairy products and greasy, sugary or fatty foods, which also induce your body to produce mucus. Especially avoid cheese or milk, which both bring on a thick coating of mucus on your vocal cords just minutes after consumption.

    Avoid alcohol, caffeine, narcotics, citrus and dry air conditioning or heating. All of these dehydrate your vocal cords, causing them to swell and become irritated, which in turn produces mucus.

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    Drink plenty of water during and in advance of singing. Well-hydrated cords are naturally lubricated and don't need to produce mucus for protection. Room temperature water is best. Cold water constricts your vocal cords, causing them to strain. Hot water can temporarily remove mucus from your vocal cords, but overall it also puts strain upon them.

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    Rest your voice. Singing is a strenuous activity, and as with other muscles of your body, you should "warm-down" your vocal cords. Perform "lip-trills," allowing your lips to vibrate as your pass air through them while gently humming up and down through your range. Yawn, drop your jaw and relax your tongue as you say "ah" to release your singing muscles.

    After extended periods of singing, you should rest your voice by taking a commensurate break from singing, and--if possible--speaking. Ideally, an hour or so of singing should be followed by a break of several hours, while multiple hours of singing should be followed by an overnight break.

    Practicing these good habits will protect and keep your voice healthy and will help you safely and easily eliminate mucus on your vocal cords.

Tips and warnings

  • Contrary to popular belief, lemon is not conducive to your voice. While it can temporarily reduce mucus, the acidity of the lemon dries out your vocal cords, which causes irritation and the production of mucus.

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