Medications to Avoid

11.10.2016 |

Episode #7 of the course How to sing like a star by Roma Waterman


Avoiding certain medications will prevent vocal fatigue and long-term vocal trouble.

I meet singers every day who are having trouble with their voice simply because they are taking medications that negatively affect the voice. Today, I want to make you aware of what medications you should avoid that could affect your voice and why.



Aspirin is a little-known danger for vocalists. Aspirin is an anticoagulant, which means it thins the blood. Because of this, there is an increased risk for bleeding, which in turn can cause hemorrhaging of the vocal folds. If the voice is used forcefully (for example, if you sneeze or cough) or if you are wanting to sing a lot and you are using this medication, there is a high risk of permanent damage.



If you are going to sing for long periods of time, stay away from antihistamines or other medications that dry up mucus. Antihistamines are excellent for easing congestion and irritation, but they do have a drying effect on your vocal folds. Well-lubricated vocal folds are important for efficient singing.

Huge doses of Vitamin C in conjunction with antihistamine tablets can also have a drying effect.


Cough Lollies

Throat gargles and cough lollies with menthol will dry out your throat. Those lollies with anesthetic are also a risk because you will not know how much damage you are doing. These medications can hide infections, strain, and tension.


Chewing Gum and Some Breath Mints

I once had a professional singer come to me who was suffering with constant loss of her voice. Because of this, she could only perform once or twice a week. Between performances, she would lose her voice and would need 2-3 days to recover.

The first time I met her, she entered her lesson chewing gum. When I asked her how often she had gum in her mouth, she said, “Oh, all the time.” I suggested that she not chew gum for a week and see what happened. She was surprised by this advice, thinking I was going to give her some exercises to help with her voice, but of course from my past experience I knew that this needed to be eradicated first to see how the voice would respond.

After a week, she came back to her next lesson. Her voice was healthy and well, and she never needed to come back for another lesson! The gum was the culprit.

This is one story from countless students I have had who have encountered the same problem using gum and breath mints. The chemicals in these can cause fatigue in the throat because they have a dehydrating effect. Steer clear of them to keep your voice healthy and strong.



We mentioned before that only two things can reach the vocal folds. The first one was steam (good), and the second one was smoking (obviously bad). Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to hinder your voice, as it causes dehydration as well as inflammation.

However, a word of caution—if you are a smoker and you stop abruptly, you will most likely find that your voice gets worse before it improves. The transition will take a little bit of time, and you will need to be patient as the body rids itself of the toxins caused by smoking. After that, your voice will love you!

In the last few lessons, I have covered the effect that some foods, drinks, and medications can have on voice quality. Tomorrow, I’m going to cover what you can eat and drink that actually supports the voice.


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