People may still be able to sing with asthma. However, asthma symptoms and medications may affect the voice and breathing techniques.
Asthma symptoms and medication may be drying or damaging to the vocal cords, which may lead to a change in vocal quality.
Shortness of breath may also affect breath control. Managing asthma effectively and maintaining adequate hydration may help people sing with asthma.
This article looks at how asthma and asthma medications may affect the voice and tips for singing with asthma.
Being able to sing with asthma may depend on the severity of the condition. Some research suggests singing may be beneficial for asthma.
According to a 2018 review, singing may be beneficial for asthma and other lung conditions.
The review included 17 studies, all of which reported singing to have positive physical effects and improvement in quality of life in people with various health conditions.
The research suggests singing may have beneficial effects on breathing techniques and expiratory pressure.
The review concluded that singing may be a positive additional therapy for people with respiratory disease, although this requires further research.
Severe asthma may negatively affect the voice, and individuals may have laryngeal dysfunction, which can affect the vocal cords and breathing.
Additionally, vocal cord dysfunction may occur with severe asthma and may involve a sudden and involuntary closing of the vocal cords when breathing. This can cause noisy breathing, shortness of breath, and coughing.
People with severe asthma may also have muscle tension dysphonia, which refers to muscle tension around the voice box. This may change the sound or feel of the voice.
Some asthma medications may affect the voice. Steroid inhalers may dry out the airways and may cause:
Asthma medications may dry out the mucosal layer, which covers and protects the vocal cords.
Lubrication of the vocal cords is important for them to function correctly, and dryness may make it more difficult to use the voice than usual.
Other side effects of asthma medications that may affect the voice
Asthma medications are an important tool in helping people manage their condition, reduce symptoms, and help them carry on doing the activities they enjoy.
People may find the following tips helpful for singing with asthma:
- talk with a healthcare professional about which asthma medications are best to use with singing
- use proper inhaler technique, as improper technique may lead to larger amounts of medication in the mouth and increase dryness or throat irritation
- use a spacer with aerosol-based steroid inhalers
- after inhaling steroid medication, rinse the mouth with water, gargle, and spit
- hydrate the throat with steam inhalation
- stay well hydrated by sipping water throughout the day, particularly when feeling the urge to cough
- use a fine water spray to keep the mouth and pharynx moist
- use moisture-retentive chewing gum, mouthwash, toothpaste, or lozenges
- avoid excess coughing or throat clearing by tilting the head down and to the side or using breathing techniques such as strong pursed lip breathing
Additionally, staying relaxed and managing stress may help control asthma symptoms and make it easier to sing with asthma. Keeping asthma medication close by at all times is also important in case of an asthma flare.
This section answers some frequently asked questions about asthma and singing.
Does asthma affect a person’s singing voice?
Asthma symptoms may affect the singing voice and could irritate the throat and vocal cords, which may lead to vocal changes. Shortness of breath may also affect breathing technique.
Asthma medications, particularly steroid inhalers, may also dry out the throat and cause irritation or hoarseness.
Controlling asthma and taking steps to protect the vocal cords may help with singing with asthma.
Do inhalers affect singing?
Inhalers may affect vocal quality, as they can be drying to the throat.
The vocal cords require lubrication to work properly. Asthma medications can dry out the protective mucous membrane covering the vocal cords, which may make it more difficult to sing.
Keeping the mouth and throat well hydrated may help counter the effects of dryness from asthma medications and make it easier to sing.
Does singing help with breathing problems?
Some research suggests singing may benefit respiratory conditions such as asthma.
Studies report that singing may help increase respiratory muscle strength, reduce shortness of breath, and improve breathing technique.
Singing may also have psychological benefits, such as improved mood and overall increased quality of life.
Asthma symptoms and medications may affect the vocal cords and breathing. This may alter the feel or sound of the voice and the ability to sing.
Staying well-hydrated and controlling asthma symptoms are both important factors in singing with asthma and may help protect the vocal cords from damage.