Dear Dr. Jahn,
I produce a lot of mucus daily and it gets irritating when I’m trying to practice my singing. I usually try hot tea and see what happens but that doesn’t work. I don’t know what to do to at least reduce the mucus. Please help…
You can certainly blame your beverage, but I rather would look at why you may be producing a lot of mucus. This is a different problem from trying to find the right tea, and bear with me while I go through some suggestions. Consider the following possibilities:
1) Rhinitis and sinusitis – the major source of mucus is the lining of the nose and sinuses. Do you have a chronic infection or allergies? Even if the answer is no, postnasal drip on the vocal cords can be an issue. Try washing your nose twice a day with saline, using a Neti Pot.
2) Inadequate hydration – the effect of this is to thicken the mucus, and make it feel excessive. In reality you may be making less than the normal amount, but dehydration makes it more tenacious and troublesome. Solution: drink 8 glasses of water a day.
3) Smoking, alcohol, dairy products, too much sugar – all can cause mucus that is excessive or excessively thick.
4) Acid reflux – creates areas of irritation in the hypopharynx, and mucus will often stick to these areas.
5) Drying medications – a long list, including antihistamines, meds for anxiety and depression, and others.
6) Chronic nasal obstruction – if your nose is partially blocked by a deviated septum, mucus will clear less readily, and accumulate more.
7) Pulmonary issues – including chronic bronchitis, where excessive mucus is produced.
-Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)
This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.
Dr. Jahn is an internationally renowned otolaryngologist based in Manhattan with a sub-specialty interest in the professional voice. His practice includes classical and popular singers. He holds academic appointments at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Westminster Choir College in Princeton. He is Medical Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and former Director of Medical Services at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Dr. Jahn has published several books for vocalists, including “Vocal Heath for Singers” (Singdaptive) and “The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health” (Oxford University Press).