Clear Your Singing Voice After Smoking

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, Alma and 9 others

A non-smoker will never know the joys of puffing a cigarette as your thoughts soar to scrutinize ideas and concepts. Many writers and artists smoke because it can make them think better. Unfortunately, smoking kills. For those who love to sing, it can kill their beautiful voice first. It can even reduce the capacity of their lungs to sustain those long and high notes. If you are a smoker, how can you bring back the clarity of your voice each time after a smoke?

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First, understand that smoking and singing do not mix.

If you are passionate about singing, it is your profession, and it is important in your line of work that you must quit smoking completely. In the event that quitting is not your plan for the moment, or you just want to sing and smoke at the same time, it is to your benefit to learn some ways to be able to clear your singing voice after smoking.

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How to Clear the Throat of Mucus

Nicotine badly affects the throat in many ways. It can stimulate the production of more mucus, which can make it harder for singers to create and project a strong, melodious voice that can hit the right notes. If you love to sing and you smoke, you need to understand that it is important to clear your throat of mucus so that you can sing better. While most people can easily expel the mucus quite easily, it is not so for everyone. For people like you, you may need additional measures to take care of your voice. For starters, learn how to properly clear your throat of mucus.

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  1. 1
    Clear your throat without traumatizing the throat area
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    Clearing your throat by strong coughing can traumatize the throat, causing wear and tear on the sound-producing vocal cords of the larynx.
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    1. To clear your throat without overusing the vocal cords, start the process easily and make it gradually progress to a stronger method.
    2. Snort sharply and then swallow. Do this a few times as required.
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  2. 2
    Clear your throat more strongly this time
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    You do the clearing of your throat the usual way. You can produce a small sound like "ahem" to do this. You should not force your vocal cords, so do this in the quietest way possible.
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  3. 3
    Follow up with a lemon water drink without ice
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    Lemon can help cut mucus production after you smoke. You can prepare lemon water by adding the extract of a quarter of a lemon to a tall glass of water. Sip the lemon water concoction for about 25-30 minutes.
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  4. 4
    Escalate the effort by coughing
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    You can start with a small cough to try and loosen the mucus along the throat. This action will move the mucus to your mouth; spit it out. You can repeat this step a few times increasing your effort each time until the throat has been cleared of mucus.
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Other Remedies to Minimize Mucus Production

  1. 1
    Cut back on foods stimulating mucus formation
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    Help your throat by avoiding mucus stimulants like dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Other foods you must avoid include processed flour, caffeine, sugar, junk foods and other processed foods. If you can't eliminate or cut back on these food items, just like you can't quit smoking, try to avoid them at least on performance days.
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  2. 2
    Treat allergies, which can also stimulate mucus production
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    If you have rhinitis or suffer from frequent attacks of allergies due to dust mites, pollen, and dander, you can suffer from excessive mucus production. This too will require that you clear your throat often. You may follow the same steps. If you suffer from allergies, use anti-histamine medication to prevent the symptoms from affecting you.
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  3. 3
    Bring back proper breathing
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    It is important to revitalize your lung power or lung capacity.  
    1. You can do this by doing regular breathing exercises.
    2. Going to a sauna or steam room and breathing steam regularly can also rejuvenate your lungs.
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  4. 4
    Increase your water intake, vitamin C, and fruits
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    1. You can drink Aloe Vera juice, fresh beet, cucumber, carrot and celery juices, but must avoid citrus juices that can stimulate acidity in the stomach.
    2. Eat more luscious fruits, such as grapes, melon, and lots of green veggies.
    3. Chlorophyll from wheat grass or the commercially prepared one is good for your body to restore damaged cells and tissue.
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  5. 5
    Take a daily supply of valuable vitamins
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    1. Vitamin B-complex is essential for rebuilding and boosting your body's damaged cells.
    2. Lecithin and alfalfa tablets can help in the digestion of fats and their eventual assimilation.
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  6. 6
    Boost the circulatory system through exercise
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    1. Swimming is an excellent option that can pump the aerobic capacity of your lungs while staying in a hydrating environment.
    2. Alternative exercises that you can enjoy are biking and running. Do these for several months to restore your lung capacity.
    3. Calisthenics can also aid in reinvigorating your circulatory system.
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  7. 7
    Exercise your vocal cords to re-establish your desired pitch.
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    1. There are exercises designed to work on your ability to hit the high notes and the middle pitch.
    2. It is a strenuous exercise that needs to be done softly, with rests in between, and with caution.
    3. You should feel some tickling in your throat and some coughing up of mucus that provides an improvement in your throat condition.
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And the most important thing of all: Quit Smoking. You must also stay away from sources of second-hand smoke that can still trigger mucus build up. Smoking can also kill your voice in the long haul. Read on...

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What Smoking Does to Your Voice

  1. 1
    Radical loss of lung capacity
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    The most serious effect of smoking in a person is the decline in the capacity of the lungs. This is primarily due to the tar and the particulates in the smoke. The particulates and tar in the smoke make the lungs dirty. The long-term effect of smoking on your lungs is to clog the air sacs or alveoli that are the primary sites of gas exchange. Dirty lungs have reduced lung power or capacity for air.
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  2. 2
    Cigarette smoke contains chemicals
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    These cause the vocal cords to swell or form edema that causes the voice to become "throaty" or husky. This is a serious concern because it doesn't just get better. There are even certain types of vocal cord edema that require surgical treatment.
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  3. 3
    Smoking can cause emphysema and other diseases
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    Emphysema can mess up your breathing, and that is way too important in singing. It can cause cancer of the lungs, of the throat and of the tongue. Even non-smokers who are getting second-hand and third-hand smoke can inhale their toxins, making their throats dry and their voices raspy.
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  4. 4
    Smoking can also trigger and exacerbate LPRD (Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease)
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    This is a condition that happens when the acidic contents of the stomach move back into the esophagus and throat, causing a burning sensation. This requires an aggressive treatment for six months or even more to resolve the inflammation.
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  5. 5
    Nicotine can deaden nerves
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    This is because nicotine is a sedative. As the nerves that control the muscles and the lungs in singing are affected, the ability to sing well is compromised.
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  6. 6
    The heat of the smoke damages the throat
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    It can cause the throat to dry out causing the voice to crack particularly on middle to high notes.
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  7. 7
    Nicotine also deadens the cilia
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    These are found in the bronchial passages and the bronchioles are also deadened. These are important in clearing the throat of mucus and congestion. In eight hours without any nicotine (while asleep), the cilia can begin to be functional again, making them sway around, causing the "smoker's cough." A cough is also a bad thing as it causes irritation to the vocal cords.
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  8. 8
    It can cause refractory vocal nodules
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    This is the thickening of the vocal cords in the larynx due to constant irritation caused by the smoke. Surgery cannot guarantee that it will restore the quality of the damaged singing voice.
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On Healing After Quitting

  1. 1
    How much time is needed to restore the voice
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    The recovery time is variable. It depends on the degree of the damage. Usually, it may take about six to nine months for substantial healing to take place. There are instances when the singing voice never completely recovers, especially when serious irreversible damage has already set in.
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  2. 2
    Seeking professional opinion and care
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    If you are bothered by certain symptoms or you want to prevent any damage from occurring, you need to see an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. An ENT physician can tell you the state of your larynx, or voice box, and what can be done to restore your voice or care for it.
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  3. 3
    Voice recovery after smoking is influenced by many factors
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    Whether the voice will be restored or not depends on many factors aside from smoking cessation. Some of these are aging and development of nodules or scars on the vocal cords.
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Tips, Tricks and Warnings

If you can't stop smoking:

  • Stay hydrated while you smoke. Sipping a liquid while smoking will cool your throat and prevent the tar from sticking in your throat. So drink up before and after each drag. It is even better if you drink a refreshing glass of water or juice rather than alcoholic and/or carbonated beverages.
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  • Take it in smaller doses. Learn to control your drags. Keep them small and hold the smoke in for less time. You can also rest in between drags for the lungs and throat to cool down a bit.
  • Limit your smoke. If you are used to smoking every hour, try puffing a stick only after two to three hours.
  • Find lights. Smoke cigarettes with lesser nicotine. It may taste different, but you'll get used to it.
  • Quit using nicotine gum or nicotine patches. These can help you through the "withdrawal" period. It supplies you with less and less nicotine during the quitting process.

If singing is something that is important for you, you need to quit smoking before working on the recovery of your voice. This is one time when you have to decide between quitting singing and quitting smoking. Opting for the latter is the best thing to do. It will help you restore your voice and helps you nip a very bad addiction that can also affect your overall health.

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Questions and Answers

Deadened nerve with nicotine gum? Can nicotine deaden my nerves and ruin my singing voice?

Nicotine gum or more commonly known as "Nicorette" is coined to be a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) like the patch alternative which is used for the treatment of those who want to quit smoking. This is recommended to be used for only 3 months. However, some people tend to use it for prolonged period of time - months or even years after the recommended period of treatment. Some of the harmful side-effects is an addiction to it which can cause damage to the nerves, heart ailments, gastric trouble, and throat and vocal cord irritation or inflammation; to name a few. Such damaging side-effects can only occur for those who have developed addiction or dependence on nicotine gum and not for those who use the nicotine gum within the prescribed dosage and time-frame.

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How do I regain my singing voice when I have been a heavy smoker?

My voice is no longer clear, especially on the high notes.

Smoking takes time to be cleared from your body. Here is a list of what happens when you quit smoking. It is obviously better than what happens if you don't quit, but the damage to your vocal cords can take the longest to heal. This is because of the coughing, sore throat, and other mucous membrane irritations that you'll experience when quitting. Combined, these things will make restoring your voice that much harder, because you won't be able to immediately start taking care of it. You'll instead have to wait until the coughing and sicknesses have passed.

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Once that's done, you can start working on your voice. With time and patience, you may be able to reach those clear high notes you once hit, but it will take a lot of hard work. This VisiHow article has great tips, but we also have a number of other vocal and singing how to articles you can use to help you make the right choices. Here's a great article to get you started, on how to prevent vocal cord damage and protect your singing voice by drinking the right liquids.

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How do I recover my throat after smoking? If I can, what methods can I use to regain my voice?

I have smoked heavily for 3 years at age 13 and I quit around 16 years old. I wish to know how to recover my voice plus tips and tricks for that. I have tried: Nothing. I just quit 1 month back. I think it was caused by: The heat/smoke/tar that comes with the cigarette smoke

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Smoking can swell vocal chords up to 30% of their normal size. This can damage the chords with irreversible consequences. At 16, your body is still developing and you do have a chance to improve your voice. In addition to the advice of this article, you will want to start to exercise. When you are moving your body with extra physical excursion, your breathing habits change. These breathing habits are also the same ones you use while singing. Your brain will automatically revert your lungs to breath the same way as if you were jogging. Bringing deep breaths to the forefront moves your vocal chords more than if you were just sitting and talking.

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I sing daily, and its almost as if I have no control. I'm always flat off key and it hurts when I sing a long time?

I sing daily, and its almost as if I have no control. I'm always flat off key and it hurts when I sing a long time. I have tried: I drink hot tea lemon and honey. And I set a boiling water with coconut oil in a pot with a towel over my head to clear mucus. I think it was caused by: smoking cigarettes

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Felicia Ricci has provided a YouTube Tutorial for how to control pitch while singing. In this tutorial, she discusses how breath is one of the key factors that causes us to fall flat. Run through the vocal warm ups she has provided to gain more breath control. Practice laughing and notice how your soft palette moves when you laugh. 100% of even the best-trained singers will fall flat if they do not learn techniques on how to avoid them.

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Hi, can I repair my voice after smoking for 6 years?

I have been heavily smoking for 6 years and I feel like I have lost control of my voice. It feels uncomfortable to sing, what can I do?

Mariah Carey sleeps with 20 humidifiers in her bedroom. She does this because she believes it helps the way that she sings in addition to a minimum of 15 hours of sleep a day. Now, this does not mean that you have to take those lengths, but sleeping with at least one humidifier will help you. The previous smoking habit that you had has dried out your throat and vocal chords. You are also straining for the proper breath function. The steam will help to lubricate your throat for an extended period of time. You will also want to drink lots of lukewarm water and avoid alcohol.

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How can I clear a cough from my throat? I'm a singer. May I take a smoke once in a week?

My voice is looking heavy. I can sing the high note. Can I clear it forever?

Do you experience acid reflux/heartburn on a regular basis? This can cause the phlegm and irritation to your voice. Also, if you use cough drops in excess this can cause more phlegm from irritation to the throat. There is no way to clear a cough while singing forever until you determine what is causing it. Dairy, dry air, vocal strain, and lack of enough hydration can all cause excess phlegm. Pay close attention to how you feel before you start to sing. Make a diary of what you ate that day and drank. See if one of those daily habits is causing the phlegm. Eliminate items one by one to see what makes a difference. Since you smoke once a week, just stop it completely. Even just once a week can damage your vocal chords.

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How to clear mucus from the throat? Anyway to give up smoking?

I don't see a throat specialist until April. My voice box has been injured, my primary care doctor said... Either growths or polyps. Is it too late to quit smoking? I'm really scared cause I got nodules on both lungs which I'll find out in a week. I have tried: Lemon water, hot tea with honey. I think it was caused by: Probably smoking too much after husband died almost 3 years ago It is not too late to quit smoking. Especially since your primary care doctor has said you will need medical intervention to repair your voice. If you quit now then you will within a few days notice a difference in your energy level. You will also be able to sustain any medical vocal repair longer if you are not damaging it again with smoking. Here are several VisiHow articles to assist in the fight to quit smoking:

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You may have to try several ways before you find the best way for you personally to quit smoking. Your mindset to quit is already there, you just need some motivation to put it into place. There are even apps you can download from Google Play that will help motivate you.

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Unfortunately, I am a smoker but I love to sing and want to make a career out of it?

I need serious information to help me quit, I got scared reading about how it affects my singing voice, to be honest. I have tried: Willpower. I think it was caused by: An emptiness in my life

You are right to be scared about how smoking can affect your voice. There are several articles within VisiHow about how to stop smoking. The University of Oxford's research team recently published a study on what the success is of those that quit smoking abruptly. 697 people were asked to either stop smoking or reduce their consumption by 75%. After 4 weeks, the researchers contacted the participants of the study and found that those that quit abruptly had a 54% success rate. This was higher than the 39% success of gradual reduction. Even if you try to quit 5 times in one month, you will get it to a success point if you are really determined. The biggest hurdle for quitting is 72 hours. After that, the nicotine is completely out of your system. For you, this might mean hunkering down for a weekend of binge watching TV Shows and movies to keep your mind off smoking.

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I smoke one cigarette a day, its been 1 year I have gone through the process, can I get my singing voice back?

About my vocal after quitting smoking. I have tried: Nothing. I think it was caused by: I don't know

You are 75% more likely to regain your singing voice if you quit that one cigarette a day right now. The longer you wait, the lower your success rate is of regaining your singing voice and reversing the damage. Research has proven that even just one cigarette a day triples your risk of health illnesses like cancer over someone who does not smoke. Just one cigarette puts you in that higher risk category.

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My voice is burnt out when I sing or exclaim (anything that requires my vocal folds to produce a medium to high pitch sound)?

I am not a professional singer. But I love to sing and I can sing really well. I got sick and my voice went away and I smoked during that time period as well, and now it's 2 weeks later and my voice is semi-back. When I sing medium to high notes or laugh (I laugh high pitched) then my voice becomes hoarse. It is really stressing me and I want my voice back, what do I do? I was sick and have sinus but I also smoke on a daily.

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Categories : Voice Lessons & Tips

Recent edits by: Maria, anindita, shanaqui

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