Feeling sick is never fun. I do all I can to stay healthy and keep illness away so that I can keep singing and performing at my best. However, I still kept getting what I thought was a horrible cold around the same time every year. My sinuses would clog up, my throat would get very sore, and I could barely get out of bed, let alone sing or go to class. After a few years of this, I decided to get allergy tested. It turns out I'm horribly allergic to ragweed, but I'm also very allergic to many year-round allergens too (such as dogs, cats, and dust mites). I had a runny nose, drainage, and sneezing most days out of the year, but I thought that was just normal. Once I started making changes to help with my allergies, I began to feel so much better and my singing greatly improved. Since allergy season is almost upon us, I wanted to share some of the ways I combat my allergies, and some general tips for allergy sufferers.
Getting allergy tested
I'm so sorry that I waited so long to get allergy tested! I'd always known I had some type of seasonal allergy, but I wasn't sure what I was specifically allergic to. Being aware of my specific sensitivities, I am able to proactively defend against them. Once you get allergy tested, you are able to get treatment via shots. Due to moving around constantly, I haven't been able to start this treatment and have had to come up with other ways to treat my allergies.
Sign up for allergen allerts
Once you know what seasonal allergens you are allergic to, you can sign up for alerts to tell you when those allergens will be most prevalent in your area. My favorite tool for this is Pollen.com. They offer an app as well as alert emails. It's a great way to be prepared before you even walk out the door.
One of the great ways to treat stuffed-up sinuses, and to prevent sinus problems, is to use a saline spray or rinse. I use a saline spray every day at least once a day, and it has really helped keep my sinuses clear. I like to use the pressurized spray for every day, and I use a nasal rinse (like a neti pot) when my symptoms flair up. Saline is a great non-medicated way to keep allergy symptoms in check.
Allergy mediations can be tricky, especially for singers. My allergist gave me some recommendations for over-the-counter medications, but in the end I had to use trial-and-error to find out what works for me. I would recommend buying smaller boxes of different allergy mediations to start out with, and trying them out for a couple of weeks each. Keep track of whether a particular medications seems to dry you out to much, makes you groggy, and noticeably lessens your symptoms. You may need to take these medications year-round, or you may just need them when certain allergens are present.
Allergy-proof your home
I have several indoor allergies in addition to my seasonal allergies. One of my biggest sensitivities is to dust mites, which are unfortunately pretty much impossible to eliminate. The best way for me to combat this is to clean my apartment regularly, especially by dusting and vacuuming (this can help if you have a pet or dust allergy as well). I also purchased a mattress and pillow covers specifically designed to help with allergies. Washing my sheets at least once a week helps too. One of my favorite investments was a HEPA filter air purifier, which I use in my bedroom overnight. It drastically cuts down on allergens in the air, allowing me to wake up with significantly less severe symptoms. The products you need may vary depending on what you are allergic to, but there are so many products available to keep you healthy and symptom-free.
Hopefully these tips help you to be healthy and allergy symptom-free!!
Note: the products I mentioned above are what I personally use and are not sponsored in any way