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#1 2013-08-23 19:17:50

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
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Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Hey guys, this is a rather minor nuisance compared to my earlier posts, but I thought I would still bring it up.

It seems in the past few weeks/a month that when practicing I often have the urge/need to clear my throat.  Occasionally (while sirening usually) whatever mucus there will interfere and I will produce a "gurgling" note.  However, I can not cough up any mucus (it's not like in the winter if I have a cold and I can cough up some huge chunks of phlegm).

I think I might have found the problem, but I am not sure exactly how the physics of insulation/air conditioning etc works.

I read online that most people say the solution would be to get a humidifier, and the cause would be from the lack of humidity in your environment. 

On one hand, where I live currently it is quite humid in the summer (not Texas/Florida level, but the summer in Illinois is still often at least in the 80s with like 80% humidity).  But at the beginning of the summer when I didn't have this sensation our AC was broken, so we had to make do with fans and windows open.  Since we've had the AC fixed, the method to stay cool is by shutting the windows, having the AC on, and running fans.

Would this be enough to suck up all the moisture in the room, warranting the need for a humidifier?

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2013-08-23 19:17:50

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#2 2013-08-23 20:56:14

Simon Magus
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Registered: 2013-07-30
Posts: 78
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Could be! I personally find humidifiers to be a bit overrated - but that's just for my voice. Staying hydrated, through drinking enough water and watching the alcohol consumption, has been much more helpful to me. I sleep with the AC on all night and my voice still feels ready to go in the morning! 

Other things can cause mucus, though, too. Reflux, sinus drainage, aggressive/damaging technique, being other common culprits.

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#3 2013-08-23 21:51:50

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Simon Magus wrote:

Could be! I personally find humidifiers to be a bit overrated - but that's just for my voice. Staying hydrated, through drinking enough water and watching the alcohol consumption, has been much more helpful to me. I sleep with the AC on all night and my voice still feels ready to go in the morning! 

Other things can cause mucus, though, too. Reflux, sinus drainage, aggressive/damaging technique, being other common culprits.

Well I drink A LOT of water naturally, I doubt I have reflux or sinus damage.  Technique problems could be part of it, but I took some time off to let my voice rest and have come back with better technique, but it still could be some remnants of my prior singing lingering...

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#4 2013-08-24 14:13:18

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Here's how air conditioning can dehumidify the air. A compressor pressurizes the refigerant in the line. The outside unit in a central a/c system has the compressor and those vane-looking things are the condenser. And you have a blower motor that pulls heat away from those vanes (coils.)

The pressurized gas travels through the high pressure line (the small one) to the indoor air handler (either in a closet or an attic. Inside that in what is called a transom is another set of vane-like coils. This is called the evaporator coil. A squirrel cage fan in the central unit blows air from the room(s) through a return-air channel past this evaporator. As the room air is passing the evaporator coil, a simple act of physics happens. Energy always moves from hot to cold. So, heat energy from the air moves to the cold evaporator coil. As air cools, moisture in that air condenses and becomes liquid, draining off the evaporator coil into a collection pan that has a pipe that runs to a drain line or outside the house. This cooler air is then pushed through the ducting and out the diffuser vents at you, at considerably less moisture than when it started. The warmed compressed refigerant then goes through an expansion valve into a larger, low pressure line to return to the compressor. Ad infinitum.

In central heating, both gas and electric, there is less of a dehumidifying effect, as the temp of air is being raised, rather than lowered, so air is not condensing moisture as it heats up.

The only place this is different is in a car. In a car, especially with the defroster on, the air will actually be cooled by the a/c compressor before running through heat, so that the air is intentionally dry as it blows across the window to absorb the moisture that condensed on the window, obscuring your view. So, it is not a wise idea to sing in the car when the defroster is on.

I live in Texas and air conditioning is necessary. We get days and week of 100 + F and we call that August. So, I drink fluids all the time, all day long. Water, soda, whatever. And if I need to clear my throat, I clear my throat. I just try not to record it.
:)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#5 2013-08-24 18:28:16

Simon Magus
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Registered: 2013-07-30
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Nice lesson, ron! That was very interesting.

So I would say try a humidifier then! I've tried them before and it didn't seem to make a drastic difference in my voice, but everyone's body is different.

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#6 2013-08-25 15:24:52

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Simon Magus wrote:

Nice lesson, ron! That was very interesting.

So I would say try a humidifier then! I've tried them before and it didn't seem to make a drastic difference in my voice, but everyone's body is different.

I would also say it depends on where the humidifier is. Ideally, you should have it in the same room where you are singing. The reason we all sound great in the shower is both the acoustic nautre of the room and the fact that we are surrounded by the warm steam of the shower.

So, get a waterproof recording rig and record in the shower. (sound only, please.) :lol:


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#7 2013-08-27 02:28:25

JoannaC
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Registered: 2012-06-18
Posts: 31
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Sometimes the urge to clear-throat is a false-alarm: cords are uncomfortable or unhappy but don't have much "vocabulary" to specify what's wrong. So we clear, and that sensation grinds over the discomfort, gives temporary distraction (not quite 'relief').. If one keeps clearing more & more vigorously the body will produce more lubrication, so eventually one gets "proof that something was in there." 

Alternatively it just keeps feeling dry ... like yours . 
So while I'm a great believer in humidifiers, if that doesnt seem to make much difference, I'd get curious about what else might be going on.

In my experience with more than a thousand voice patients: when throat-clearing is the primary complaint or symptom, problem is either
-mild acid reflux (just enough to get the cords 'jumpy', but might not be felt as heartburn);
- a generalized fatigue or discomfort from talking too low in one's range (best approximate level being 4-5 notes up from absolute physiological bottom)
- subtle weakness in the cords related to normal aging (in guys this can hit around 50, or even earlier, as one's decline in testosterone starts to decrease muscle mass throughout the body. SORRY fellas I hate to mention it). Usually in this last situation, the sound changes as well -- high notes feel more effortful; voice generally not quite as robust.
- dry mouth feeling from a variety of medications can lead to dryness in the throat, again making the cords uncomfortable and asking to be cleared. Humidifier helps some; extra-moisturizing mouth care products can also help a little. This would be a main suspect if throat-clearing started within a few weeks of starting a new medication.

last possibility-- least likely -- would be a subtle infection of some kind such as a fungal coating on the cords, again causing just enough atypical sensation that the conscious mind starts to pay attention.

as for solutions (other than getting a throat exam to confirm one or another of the above) -- try sipping ice-water right after you clear. Then sip ice-water whenever you get the URGE, e.g. sip instead of clearing. The ice-water briefly shocks/distracts the throat & if you clear less, cords will be free of THAT source of irritation. Over time the urge-to-clear can decrease.  This works best, of course, when combined with adjustments to help any underlying problem with health or voice technique.


OK -- them's my more-than-2-cents --
best wishes from yer friendly rehab gal --

Joanna

Last edited by JoannaC (2013-08-27 02:30:04)


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free vocal health info:
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The Lifestyle Guide for Singers: 
www.tinyurl.com/everyday-voice-download

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#8 2013-08-27 03:48:42

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
Reputation :   

Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

JoannaC wrote:

Sometimes the urge to clear-throat is a false-alarm: cords are uncomfortable or unhappy but don't have much "vocabulary" to specify what's wrong. So we clear, and that sensation grinds over the discomfort, gives temporary distraction (not quite 'relief').. If one keeps clearing more & more vigorously the body will produce more lubrication, so eventually one gets "proof that something was in there." 

Alternatively it just keeps feeling dry ... like yours . 
So while I'm a great believer in humidifiers, if that doesnt seem to make much difference, I'd get curious about what else might be going on.

In my experience with more than a thousand voice patients: when throat-clearing is the primary complaint or symptom, problem is either
-mild acid reflux (just enough to get the cords 'jumpy', but might not be felt as heartburn);
- a generalized fatigue or discomfort from talking too low in one's range (best approximate level being 4-5 notes up from absolute physiological bottom)
- subtle weakness in the cords related to normal aging (in guys this can hit around 50, or even earlier, as one's decline in testosterone starts to decrease muscle mass throughout the body. SORRY fellas I hate to mention it). Usually in this last situation, the sound changes as well -- high notes feel more effortful; voice generally not quite as robust.
- dry mouth feeling from a variety of medications can lead to dryness in the throat, again making the cords uncomfortable and asking to be cleared. Humidifier helps some; extra-moisturizing mouth care products can also help a little. This would be a main suspect if throat-clearing started within a few weeks of starting a new medication.

last possibility-- least likely -- would be a subtle infection of some kind such as a fungal coating on the cords, again causing just enough atypical sensation that the conscious mind starts to pay attention.

as for solutions (other than getting a throat exam to confirm one or another of the above) -- try sipping ice-water right after you clear. Then sip ice-water whenever you get the URGE, e.g. sip instead of clearing. The ice-water briefly shocks/distracts the throat & if you clear less, cords will be free of THAT source of irritation. Over time the urge-to-clear can decrease.  This works best, of course, when combined with adjustments to help any underlying problem with health or voice technique.


OK -- them's my more-than-2-cents --
best wishes from yer friendly rehab gal --

Joanna

hey thanks Joanna!

Now in regards to some of the typical causes, I know it's not the talking too low (have been talking "up" for quite a few months), aging (I'm only 22), and medications (I don't take any).

Now with acid reflux, I've only suffered from "noticeable" heartburn twice in my life, once in July 2012 and another in January of this year.  Since I've gotten out of school in May my diet has been "worse" (typical family meals, with a variety of foods with sides and usually get pizza on the weekend) compared to my diet in college (strict fitness kind of diet like eggs, turkey burgers, veggies, oatmeal etc on week days, not counting if I would spot a friend and he wanted to get something, but then coupled with drinking a lot of alcohol and fast food on the weekends :rolleyes: ). 

My brother has suffered from some kind of mild reflux which resulted in a cough unless he takes Prilosec.  I know I have some Tums I bought for my July episode.  I know there's different types of heartburn medication, is one type better than the other for singers?

EDIT: just found my Tums, and the instructions are "take when having heartburn".  So should I take 2 when I wake up, and then if it works another 2 when I feel the mucus coming back?

Last edited by jco5055 (2013-08-27 04:09:10)

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#9 2013-09-01 22:23:06

JoannaC
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Registered: 2012-06-18
Posts: 31
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Now with acid reflux, I've only suffered from "noticeable" heartburn twice in my life, once in July 2012 and another in January of this year.  Since I've gotten out of school in May my diet has been "worse" ... then coupled with drinking a lot of alcohol and fast food on the weekends

My brother has suffered from some kind of mild reflux which resulted in a cough unless he takes Prilosec.  I know I have some Tums I bought for my July episode.  I know there's different types of heartburn medication, is one type better than the other for singers?

noticeable heartburn is the tip-of-iceberg; vocal discomfort and cracking, irritability, throat-clearing etc can start long before that. Esophagus (swallowing tube to stomach) has a protective lining designed for stomach acid. Vocal cords are in your airway (breathing tube) and are 100x more sensitive to stomach chemicals.

There are 3 main types of heartburn medication.
- immediate antacid, main ingredient usually a "bicarbonate" -- Tums, Rolaids, Alka Selzer, Gaviscon (my personal fave). VERY short term, neutralizes acid on contact. Immediate symptom relief. Gaviscon AFTER meals and/or at bedtime does a bit better; its what I recommend at the end of those nights out with alcohol, to decrease risks of refluxing overnight.
- "H2 blocker" - zantac, tagamet, pepcid, and generics. Longer-lasting, relatively safe. Follow instructions on box.
-"Proton pump inhibitor" - all the new expensive (and heavily advertised) drugs, plus generic Prilosec etc. Effective over time (wasted as occasional-symptomatic use) but with side-effects if taken for years. Use as directed on package e.g. pulsed doses (a few weeks on, then off).

BUT ALL THIS is guesswork, much better to get a throat exam rather than self-medicate ... and avoiding those greasy-meals-with-booze evenings is as useful as any chemical repair afterwards. Much more info in my book.

If you love your voice invest in it and pamper it! The friends who tease you now will respect you later.

Last edited by JoannaC (2013-09-01 22:25:54)


TMV's voice/speech therapist

free vocal health info:
www.voiceofyourlife.com

The Lifestyle Guide for Singers: 
www.tinyurl.com/everyday-voice-download

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#10 2013-09-02 01:51:19

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
Reputation :   

Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

JoannaC wrote:

Now with acid reflux, I've only suffered from "noticeable" heartburn twice in my life, once in July 2012 and another in January of this year.  Since I've gotten out of school in May my diet has been "worse" ... then coupled with drinking a lot of alcohol and fast food on the weekends

My brother has suffered from some kind of mild reflux which resulted in a cough unless he takes Prilosec.  I know I have some Tums I bought for my July episode.  I know there's different types of heartburn medication, is one type better than the other for singers?

noticeable heartburn is the tip-of-iceberg; vocal discomfort and cracking, irritability, throat-clearing etc can start long before that. Esophagus (swallowing tube to stomach) has a protective lining designed for stomach acid. Vocal cords are in your airway (breathing tube) and are 100x more sensitive to stomach chemicals.

There are 3 main types of heartburn medication.
- immediate antacid, main ingredient usually a "bicarbonate" -- Tums, Rolaids, Alka Selzer, Gaviscon (my personal fave). VERY short term, neutralizes acid on contact. Immediate symptom relief. Gaviscon AFTER meals and/or at bedtime does a bit better; its what I recommend at the end of those nights out with alcohol, to decrease risks of refluxing overnight.
- "H2 blocker" - zantac, tagamet, pepcid, and generics. Longer-lasting, relatively safe. Follow instructions on box.
-"Proton pump inhibitor" - all the new expensive (and heavily advertised) drugs, plus generic Prilosec etc. Effective over time (wasted as occasional-symptomatic use) but with side-effects if taken for years. Use as directed on package e.g. pulsed doses (a few weeks on, then off).

BUT ALL THIS is guesswork, much better to get a throat exam rather than self-medicate ... and avoiding those greasy-meals-with-booze evenings is as useful as any chemical repair afterwards. Much more info in my book.

If you love your voice invest in it and pamper it! The friends who tease you now will respect you later.

I'll look into an exam, but in the meantime try to eat as "clean" as possible.  Once I get a job and move out, and then I just buy healthy foods to avoid any temptation, I bet it will resolve itself quite quickly.

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#11 2013-09-02 02:17:42

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

I used to get heartburn. Then, during a bout of tooth extractions, I had to eat soft foods. So, I found that I liked zero fat yogurt with fruit in it. Then, I decided to forgo my usual cookies and ice cream dessert for sugar-free jello. And then, quit eating fried foods, like fried chicken, which seems to be a 5th food group in the southern USA. Then, my wife got me into drinking zero fat milk, especially in my coffee. And I lost nearly 40 pounds. And the heartburn. The fat was wearing me out, evidently. I am 6' 6". And I used to weight as much as 254. Now, I average 225 or so. At my height, I look kind of thin. At my age (49,) that is also a good thing. Most guys my age are building a gut and I have been avoiding that, so far.

I still eat meat at dinner.

Last edited by ronws (2013-09-02 02:18:17)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#12 2013-09-02 02:39:26

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

ronws wrote:

I used to get heartburn. Then, during a bout of tooth extractions, I had to eat soft foods. So, I found that I liked zero fat yogurt with fruit in it. Then, I decided to forgo my usual cookies and ice cream dessert for sugar-free jello. And then, quit eating fried foods, like fried chicken, which seems to be a 5th food group in the southern USA. Then, my wife got me into drinking zero fat milk, especially in my coffee. And I lost nearly 40 pounds. And the heartburn. The fat was wearing me out, evidently. I am 6' 6". And I used to weight as much as 254. Now, I average 225 or so. At my height, I look kind of thin. At my age (49,) that is also a good thing. Most guys my age are building a gut and I have been avoiding that, so far.

I still eat meat at dinner.

looking at a list of foods bad for GERD and comparing it to what I eat now vs what I ate in college, the best I can do is ice cream ( I seem to average 1-2x/wk currently, versus maybe once or twice a month in college), tea (I'd have green tea each night before singing, but my mom has been buying Snapple teas and I often have one a day), pizza (would usually order one every weekend, but now for lunch like 3-4x/wk I bake a frozen one for my brothers and myself), and chocolate (was pretty much only when I had ice cream, now I've had a 2-5 of those miniature hershey variety pack bars a day).  I've recently noticed some mild discomfort after eating ice  cream, and the other day I had a pizza lunchable and felt like I was going to vomit for a few minutes. 

I'm going to try to minimize eating those foods, though since I at least had some of those before (coupled with a lot of alcohol on the weekends) it's also hard to tell if this isn't a culmination of continued dietary effects instead of one or two of the "bad" foods being eaten more frequently since I graduated.

Also genetics, on one hand I guess my maternal grandfather suffers from heartburn, and I mentioned my brother, but my dad eats pasta/tomato sauce like it's his job (and our family had pasta a few times a week growing up) and he doesn't get heartburn.

Last edited by jco5055 (2013-09-02 02:40:52)

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#13 2013-09-02 03:41:55

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

I think I'm going to keep track of the foods I eat this week and any symptoms, starting with eliminating the easy and unecessary stuff, like all sweets and beverages like beer and iced tea.  Then make sure not to combine possible trouble foods in one sitting such as yogurt and pizza, and see what my symptoms are (in fact yogurt is a big thing I ate literally nothing of while at college compared to now)

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#14 2013-09-09 04:45:07

jco5055
TMV Forum Member
From: Chicago
Registered: 2012-03-30
Posts: 216
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

Ok guys, so I solved the GERD issue!  Luckily, being 22 my hunch that it wasn't specific foods/the typical reason for the typical GERD age (~35+ barring obesity) was correct.  It was some combination (or not) of either having a hiatal hernia (not sure, but I did one of the "massages" that is used for people who have one and felt instant relief) and/or eating before bed (I stop a minimum of 3 hours just to be sure).

My lump in throat obviously hasn't disappeared overnight, but now that the irritant is gone do you think I should take a vocal rest or not, even though my technique is fine from a "not causing injury" standpoint?  I'm sure pretty much every person on the forum that isn't a voice professional is in my same boat where I couldn't do complete rest, but I could stop singing and avoid long conversations etc.

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#15 2013-09-10 01:55:22

ronws
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2010-05-23
Posts: 11731
Reputation :   139 

Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

jco5055 wrote:

Ok guys, so I solved the GERD issue!  Luckily, being 22 my hunch that it wasn't specific foods/the typical reason for the typical GERD age (~35+ barring obesity) was correct.  It was some combination (or not) of either having a hiatal hernia (not sure, but I did one of the "massages" that is used for people who have one and felt instant relief) and/or eating before bed (I stop a minimum of 3 hours just to be sure).

My lump in throat obviously hasn't disappeared overnight, but now that the irritant is gone do you think I should take a vocal rest or not, even though my technique is fine from a "not causing injury" standpoint?  I'm sure pretty much every person on the forum that isn't a voice professional is in my same boat where I couldn't do complete rest, but I could stop singing and avoid long conversations etc.

22? OMG, I'm old enough to be your father. Fortunately, I do not have the symptoms you have had. Probably because of my deal with Satan to have the "folds of destiny." :lol:

Anyway, yeah, take some rest, find out about that hernia because likely as not, you are compensating elsewhere, in some way, to avoid the discomfort of that. And then, you really have to rest. My father-in-law had a hiatal hernia. And he had it surgically repaired. And was back to doing physical labor in his 60's, before he was completely healed, and ripped it out, agian, and had to have it fixed, again. Learn from my father-in-law. Get it fixed, let it heal. If that means you have to cancel public appearances and/or some album deal, so be it. 6 months is nothing against the rest of your life.

Edited to add:

You know, so many people are so sure that if they don't make it now, the market will pass them by.

Wrong - o ! There are styles of music long thought dead, that are re-surfacing, primarily because of the internet. With the internet, you can search for music that you like, even if the major labels are not keen on it. But the fans out there, and they are out there, are still anxious to hear that music.

Get yourself well so that you can share the music with others.

You only have the rest of your life.

Last edited by ronws (2013-09-10 01:58:25)


"When the daylight is rising up in my eyes ..." - Klaus Meine

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#16 2013-09-11 10:19:25

jojoabutbul
TMV Forum Member
Registered: 2013-09-11
Posts: 1
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Re: Feeling the urge to clear throat/"dry" mucus

I also suffered from similar symptoms and tried all kinds of solutions. Some worked better then others.
Recently I came across an amazing natural remedy that did wonders to my voice.
It is called "TMRG Vocal Cord Solutions" and you can buy it on Amazon.
Not only did it remove the hoarseness and the need to cough, but I found out that it actually increased my range and add vibrancy to my voice.  I HIGHLY recommend it!!!

Jo

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