Prevent Vomiting When Singing

Edited by Mian Sheilette Ong, Lynn, Anonymous, Christine dela Cruz and 4 others


Many singers give their all when they are onstage, and they may have mixed emotions whenever they perform. Excitement, anxiety, worry, happiness, and fear are just some of the common elements of their personal roller coaster ride during their performance. People might say that singing in front of large audiences and presenting themselves through media every day must have already trained these performers well. That is true but there are other factors that trigger vomiting while singing.

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Random Nausea as the Cause


Random nausea may be the main cause of vomiting while singing. It isn't necessarily due to stage fright alone. Stomach infection, inadequate sleep, hormonal imbalance, stress, and brain injuries may cause a singer to vomit, even in the middle of a performance. The worst thing that could happen is that the vomiting may be a complication of an undiagnosed medical condition.

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Stomach infection is usually the culprit for random nausea. Once harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses infect the singer, the singer would certainly feel sick enough to vomit. On the other hand, a course of antibiotics, anesthetic drugs, or chemotherapy could also bring about random nausea. In this case, doctors usually tell their patients about the side effects of these treatments. Imbalance can also result to random nausea. Some singers can be victims of excessive eating, hangovers, emotional distress, stress, and fatigue. Others have psychiatric ailments that include random nausea as one of the symptoms. There may also be singers that deprive themselves of water or food and those who have medical conditions such as diabetes.

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Preventing Vomiting When Singing

If all you want to do is sing in front of an audience, you should do your best to prevent vomiting whenever you perform onstage. The following are some of the things you could consider:

  1. 1
    Eat something light before you sing.
    When you're up there on that stage, you have to remember that your entire body will be subjected to a workout. You need to have a fully activated brain and body to support the dynamism of your performance, but your stomach needs to have room for the diaphragm to expand and contract so that you can breathe fully. If you eat a heavy meal before you sing, you will not be able to breathe well because your stomach is taking up much room. You could just eat some fruits and water, but see to it that you are not full. Fruits will give you the necessary energy boost and water will help your blood produce more oxygen.
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  2. 2
    Correct any imbalance first.
    It is important for you to see your physician to see if there are imbalances happening in your body. You have to be treated and given time to recuperate before you perform. If you don't, then you will always be at risk of getting sick anywhere you sing.
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  3. 3
    Keep a portable scent handy.
    Essential oils like lavender, lemon, or peppermint will do the job. The scent will remove the thought of vomit in your head.
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  4. 4
    Speak words of affirmation.
    When you're performing onstage, remove your microphone for a quick few seconds and tell yourself that you're not going to be sick. You can also say this to yourself silently. Affirmations like this could alter your mindset at the moment and prevent you from being sick.
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  5. 5
    Enhance the sense of touch.
    You can also prevent vomiting onstage if you touch anything that can make you feel a little pain. You could slightly pinch yourself, bite your lips, or tug your hair. This will delay the urge to vomit while you perform.
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  6. 6
    Try imagining yourself in a beautiful, relaxing place. This will really distract you from getting sick while onstage.
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  7. 7
    Take an anti-emetic therapy.
    If your doctor recommends that you should undergo anti-emetic therapy for your risk of vomiting onstage, then by all means, do it. This medical treatment can significantly reduce or prevent vomiting and nausea. The brain has a vomiting center that receives signals from emotions, senses, inner ear (equilibrium), chemoreceptor trigger zone, and stomach nerves. You will be given anti-emetic drugs during the anti-emetic treatment. However, the type of drug will depend on the cause of your being sick. You could take your anti-emetic drugs by mouth, through the vein, through the muscle, subcutaneously, via suppositories, or via skin patches.
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  8. 8
    Perform acupressure.
    Acupressure is an ancient Chinese remedy that targets pressure points in the body. You can use this to prevent vomiting when you're singing or even before you get on stage. Place your index and middle fingers at the base of your hand, on your wrist. This is how you measure the pressure point for nausea. Locate the "inner gate" or the P6 point, which is about two to three inches from the top of the wrist. It is in between the large tendons. Use your index finger and your thumb to press firmly on the sides of the wrist when you are nauseous. The relief will come sometime within 10 seconds to five minutes. Tap the pressure points together using your wrists and take deep breaths. You can get a wristband to apply pressure on the right spot. Its flat button should be positioned over the pressure point. Over time, you will have to apply pressure on the wristband because it wears out like ordinary clothing.
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  9. 9
    Undergo surgery.
    If you have hiatal hernia similar to Chester Bennington of Lincoln Park, then one option is surgery. Hiatal hernia is a medical condition involving part of your stomach sliding on top of the diaphragm. This allows the stomach acid to flow into your esophagus. Nausea and burning pain are experienced when you have hiatal hernia. Though it can be controlled by regulating your diet, taking antacids, or inclining your shoulders and head, surgery should be done if it already affects the performance of a singer. The stomach acids could burn the singer's throat and this is a very hazardous thing.
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  10. 10
    Don't smoke.
    Nicotine is a poison, and it can cause you to become very ill. Sometimes, after nicotine poisoning, even the smell of second hand smoke can cause you to vomit. You'll need to quit smoking any cigarettes at all to get past this.
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  • Try some relaxation techniques backstage before you perform. This will set your mind at ease and prevent you from getting sick.
  • Do not eat spicy foods before you sing. These agitate the digestive system.
  • See your doctor to see if you have any underlying medical conditions that you might be having. Treating the root cause of vomiting is much better than just eliminating the symptoms one by one.

Questions and Answers

What makes you feel sick after singing?

Singing involves a lot of bodily functions. When these bodily functions do not coordinate well enough, that leaves you feeling sick after singing. The following are most common causes:

  • Improper breathing. When singing, to be able to produce sound, you need to breathe first in order to help the vocal cords move properly and produce the right sounds. However, when breathing is not done properly, that affects your blood circulation, thereby making you feel dizzy and nauseated at the same time. There are two things that can happen - either you don't inhale as much air as you need or you inhale too much. Both of these will cause imbalance in your blood circulation.
  • Vasovagal attack. This is basically caused by standing for a prolonged period of time, such as when you sing. Stress is also a significant factor here. Once this happens, the person feels dizzy and nauseated at the same time, so much so that it will force him to actually lie down. What happens here is that because of standing up, the blood pools into the lower limbs, causing unbalanced circulation throughout the body, especially toward the brain. Due to the triggers, part of the nervous system malfunctions, specifically those which are directly responsible for blood pressure and heart rate. This can easily be resolved by a few minutes of lying down or until normal blood supply is restored in the brain. When the amount of rest is not enough, there is still a tendency to feel dizzy as soon as you get up. Typical triggers of vasovagal attack that must be avoided prior to singing are the following:
    • Suddenly standing up from a sitting or lying position. This causes the blood to surge through the different parts of the body in an abnormal way. Prior to singing, if you are in a dressing room waiting for your turn, for example, it is crucial to just stay relaxed and move slowly in order to avoid this.
    • Full-blown or heavier-than-normal exercise. While it is important to keep fit prior to singing, engaging in extremely heavy physical activities prior to singing will cause trauma to the body, therefore affecting the areas of the nervous system that lead to irregular heart beat and increased blood pressure.
    • Activities that strongly stimulate the nervous system such as responding to emergencies where there is an adrenaline rush, or even small activities like tickling. These cause the nervous system to react abnormally and therefore affect the circulation of blood.
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  • Low quality of fluid intake prior to singing. If you have taken too much caffeine or alcohol at least a few hours before singing, that is most likely to make you feel sick because they strip your body of the necessary fluids for better circulation. Coffee and alcohol are very strong diuretics, meaning, they flush out fluids in your body. Intake of beverages which have a bit of salt would be beneficial, as salt helps keep fluids in the body.
  • Dehydration. You do not need to consider only what type of fluid you drink prior to singing, but also how much of it. Keeping your body as hydrated as possible is best. This means not only drinking right before singing, but also maintaining a good practice of drinking constantly throughout the day.
  • Cardio-pulmonary conditions. If you have existing cardio-pulmonary issues, that obviously affects the quality of your respiration and blood circulation. When these are not in good shape, that can easily contribute to dizziness and nausea after the pressure experienced through singing.
  • Low physical stamina. Singing is very much like sports. It requires a strong body in order to sustain the different bodily functions occurring at the same time. If your body is not used to heavy physical activity, it can cause the muscles all over your body to get sore right away, even with just a low level of movement.
  • Exposure to too much heat. This is one of the most common complaints of singers on stage. All of those spotlights make the entire place very hot. Heat causes the body to work double time in terms of balancing the temperature. When the body is not able to cope well with this, that's when dizziness and nausea occurs.

Singing can be an exhausting activity even for people who regularly do it, and stay in shape. It takes a lot from your body to sing for long periods, and project your voice. It is especially rough on the muscles in your stomach. This can cause your stomach to become upset from the strain. Just make sure to drink water and stay hydrated, maybe even eat a light snack afterwards.

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How to prevent feeling nauseous while singing from diaphragm?

The diaphragm is that sheet of muscles just a bit lower than the rib cage. It separates the upper organs of the body (respiratory and circulatory systems) from the lower organs (digestive, reproductive, and excretory systems). When breathing, these muscles are normally flat, but they contract during the inhalation and exhalation process.

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When singing, the diaphragm becomes much flatter (almost flexed) than when breathing normally. This controls the entry and exit of air and allows for better enunciation of words. This movement of the muscles allows control of exit of air and this creates the sound being produced. Therefore, it is crucial to be able to keep these muscles flattened. Vocal coaches normally target this when training singers. They help them sustain the position of the muscles that is ideal for the production of better sound.

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Nausea often occurs when muscle movement is not controlled the proper way. Instead of holding the diaphragm muscles, the pressure is then exerted over the other muscles of the body, particularly on those responsible for digestion. When this happens, acids in the stomach get disturbed and they fail to function in proper digestion causing the urge to actually expel food.

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Proper training and practice is indeed crucial here. It is commonly believed that a better voice actually comes out when singing from the diaphragm. This also has health benefits as it does not strain your throat too much. However, if this is not done correctly, it may also be rather straining to the muscles within your tummy.

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In order to prevent yourself from feeling nauseous while singing you can eat food before you begin to sing. This is not to say that you will need to eat immediately before you start singing but it is important that you eat at least 1 to 2 hours before singing. This will reduce the chance of you becoming nauseous while singing.

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How to stop feeling nauseous before singing?

Here are some of the things that you can do before singing to prevent and stop feeling nauseated:

  • Relax. Don't allow yourself to get too stressed by the performance. Too much stress causes the buildup of acid in your stomach, more than what is actually required to digest food. When there is too much acid in the stomach, aside from feeling upset and nauseous, it can also lead to acid reflux. This is when acid tends to go back up towards the esophagus and mouth. When this happens, it can also significantly impair your voice because acid passing through the vocal cords can be very irritating.
  • Make sure that you limit standing up for a long period of time as much as possible. Singing is best done when standing up. Therefore, make sure that you give your legs a break prior to the performance or in between performances and take a seat as often as you can. When you stand up for a long period of time without any breaks, it will cause blood to actually pool all over your limbs, therefore depriving all the other parts of the body, particularly the brain. Poor blood circulation will affect your stomach and cause it not to function accordingly, and this leads to feeling nauseated.
  • Avoid thinking about traumatic or painful memories. This will cause more stress, and will trigger certain parts of your nervous system that will lead to vasovagal attack. Vasovagal attack occurs when parts of the nervous system tend to malfunction - those which have a direct effect on the circulatory system.
  • Address menstrual cramps as soon as you can. If you happen to be singing during your period and that you know for sure you experience menstrual cramps during these days, do not wait until you are already in the performance and are experiencing the cramps already. Take precautionary measures a few hours before the performance. Menstrual cramps can have a referred impact on the surrounding muscles, particularly the digestive system muscles.
  • Get enough rest prior to the performance. Lack of sleep impairs the entire body, including the digestive system. Make sure that you get enough sleep prior to the performance to keep your body in proper condition.
  • Drink enough fluids and avoid those which are diuretic. Water is the most ideal thing to drink, as it is not irritating to the stomach and does not contain ingredients that may trigger nausea. Avoid coffee or carbonated beverages as those promote acid in the stomach. If possible, drink beverages with a bit of salt in order to help your body retain fluids. The better hydrated you are, the more likely your blood will be able to circulate more effectively throughout the body, therefore maintaining the proper function of all systems.
  • Be aware of food that causes you allergies and discomfort. For example, if you know that you have lactose intolerance, do not consume dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, cake, or ice cream.
  • Avoid exposing yourself to extremes of temperature. Keep your body temperature as balanced as possible, in order to avoid trauma to it as it tries to work double time in keeping a good balance. For example, it is a given that stages are normally very hot because of the spotlights, curtains, props, etc. Therefore, avoid staying in a room with a totally opposite temperature, as that will cause shock to your body the moment you step onto the stage. While it is OK to stay in an air conditioned room, make sure that it is not extremely cold to the point that your body will have a hard time adjusting to the temperature on stage.
  • Avoid being hungry during the performance. Although you should also not stuff yourself with too much food, do not come on stage hungry either. When your stomach is empty, the acids continue to search for food to digest, thereby hurting your stomach, and this gives that upset feeling. Eat in moderation and avoid food that you know you are not comfortable with.
  • Eat some fruits. The fruity flavor can help alleviate the upset feeling in the stomach, the same way that candy works. However, avoid fruits which are too acidic such as lemons and oranges.
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It depends on what it is that's making you nauseous. If you don't eat before singing you might want to just try a very light snack. Now if you are nervous and stressed then you should try something natural like ginger to help soothe your stomach. If you are sick and vomiting there are many over the counter medicines to help reduce nausea and vomiting. You should just go to your local pharmacy and check out all the ones in your price range to compare.

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How to stop feeling sick after singing?

What you should do to stop feeling sick after singing is to rest yourself and drink plenty of cool water to keep your vocal cords lubricated and moist. Avoid homemade remedies, such as tea with a mixture of honey and lemon. Honey is soothing to your throat, but the lemon is acidic and will just worsen your condition. Water is the best remedy above all, as it can keep your entire body hydrated and can flush out toxins in your body.

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You can take over-the-counter and prescription drugs like antiemetics to soothe nausea. You can inhale medicated products for nausea, as well. This helps reduce feeling sick. However, it is better to vomit than not to vomit. If the reason of frequent vomiting is due to a hangover or food poisoning, then it is best to puke because it takes the toxins out of your body.

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You can also do neck and back exercises. Oftentimes, nausea can be your body's response to discomfort in your neck and back. Do some simple exercises before and after singing to release the tension that causes queasiness. Additionally, you can inhale lemons after singing to stop feeling sick.

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There is certainly a reason behind your current condition, and you should know it as soon as possible. You can then follow some simple treatments here, once you know the cause of your condition. If you are pregnant, some treatments and medications stated here should not be adhered. They can cause adverse effects, especially if you do not know that you are pregnant while taking them.

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In the first place, you should take some precautions to prevent yourself from feeling sick before and during singing on stage. The most important thing that you can do is to see a doctor. He or she can tell you the cause of your condition and prescribe you with appropriate medications and self-treatments. Often, water and rest are enough to recover from feeling nauseated, and they are always safe.

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If you are feeling sick after singing then the best thing you will need to do is drink water or juice and get as much rest as possible. By resting you will be able to allow your body to recover quicker if you are feeling sick after you have finished singing.

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I feel like puking when I sing? Is this normal?

It is not normal if you feel nauseous and puking every time you sing because it may indicate a medical health problem. One of the medical condition connected to these signs and symptoms is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or simply called as GERD. This medical condition makes the LES or the lower esophageal sphincter to loosen making your gastric content to flow back making you feel like vomiting. When you sing forcefully using abdominal breathing, it can greatly put pressure on your LES leading to gastric reflux. Another medical condition that can be connected to these signs and symptoms is vasovagal attack. Vasovagal attack is mostly caused by prolonged standing making the circulation of your blood more slower leading to low blood supply to your brain making you feel nauseous and vomiting. The initial remedy to this is to frequently sit or lie down to restore the normal circulation of your blood. There are also other medical health problems that can be connected to the symptom that you are experiencing every time you sing. Below are my suggestions to help you alleviate the feeling of vomiting every time you sing:

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  • Shift your body weight frequently from one leg to another.
  • Avoid eating spicy foods and alcohol-based beverages.
  • Hydrate yourself enough fluids before singing.

In general, the feeling of vomiting when a person sing is not a normal condition, but rather, it is a sign of underlying health problems.

Why after singing do you get nausea?

This is often because of improper breathing. Your stomach is filled with air which impedes digestion and you end up having to purge out the food that did not digest properly. Also, there are times that singing causes too much stress on the body and this affects the way the other parts also function.

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This happens especially when you do not consider the food that you eat prior to singing. If you eat very acidic foods, that will cause nausea even more.

Why do I feel like throwing up when I sing?

The feeling of throwing up or vomiting every time you sing is actually a symptom to an underlying health problems. There are many factors actually that could contribute to the feeling of throwing up whenever a person sing like the foods and drinks that irritates the throat, stress, or inadequate sleep. Normally, the mentioned factors can be effectively remedied by properly addressing to the root cause, that is, avoiding irritant foods and drinks, getting enough sleep and proper stress management. On the other hand, if you frequently feel like throwing up whenever you sing even if you properly followed the above managements can be indicative of a deeper health problems like Vasovagal Attack or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Vasovagal attack or Neurally-Mediated Syncope happens when a person stands for a longer period of time causing the circulation of the blood to be more slower slowly diminishing the oxygen supply of the brain which causes the feeling of nausea or throwing up. If you are a singer, frequently shifting your body weight from your one foot to another while performing is one of the best remedy to reduce incidences of vasovagal attacks. The feeling of throwing up also indicate a gastrointestinal disease commonly known as GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. This disease is a chronic type of disease (more than 6 months) which your lower esophageal sphincter is not properly functioning or closing resulting to the reflux of the acid contents of your stomach to your throat causing the feeling of throwing up or vomiting. Moreover, when you sing using your stomach, it greatly put pressure to the lower sphincter which may lead to reflux and the feeling of throwing up. If you frequently feel like throwing up whenever you sing for more than six months, I suggest to visit your nearest Internist (a medical physician specializes in internal organs) or Otolaryngologist ( a medical physician specializes in ear, nose and throat) for proper medical diagnosis and intervention.

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Why do I get the sensation to throw up after a period of singing?

When I sing high for a long duration (approximately 1-2 hours) I tend to get a sensation at the back of my mouth, opening of my throat to throw up.

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Can drinking green tea with lemon help prevent vomiting after singing?

After singing I do feel nauseous but I am not sure why. I think it is part nerves.. I have tried: I have tried taking Gravol but it makes me feel nervous.. I think it was caused by: I think it has to do with gulping air!

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Recent edits by: Grimm, Eng, Ermin

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