Sneezing, Stuffy Nose, Cough, Phlegm

Four symptoms. One cause. Five levels of remedy.

Eric Armstrong


Coughing and congestion — the bane of singers, terrible for athletes, not fun for anyone. You expect them when you’re sick with a cold or flu. But sometimes you have them for no apparent reason. You may blame allergies, but there could be a deeper cause.

Woman sneezing, holding tissue to nose.
Image by Mojca from Pixabay

If you’re a singer or speaker, these issues make it hard to do what you do, and keep an audience’s attention. If you’re an athlete, they make it harder to breathe! Here are 5 solutions, in increasing order of effectiveness and the amount of time required to employ them.

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Nasal mucus is supposed to be a thin, watery fluid that easily slides down the throat into the digestive tract. As it moves, it carries along microscopic dust, pollen, and bits of airborne debris so they are eventually eliminated.

When pollen lingers in the sinuses, it is more likely to cause the symptoms we think of as “allergies”. But as you’ll discover, a deeper cause may well underlie those symptoms.

When nasal mucus is a bit thicker, it drips down to the back of the throat. We call that phlegm. It tickles the throat, creating a desire to cough.

Thicker still, and the resulting nasal congestion creates a tendency to sneeze, as the body works to dislodge the solids in the nose. When it’s really thick, the nose becomes stuffed.

As you can see, the symptoms form a continuum. And unless you’re truly sick, they stem from a single cause. The remedies range from short-term and easiest to long-term and most complete fix:

  1. Swallow, Swallow, Swallow
  2. Salt Water Gargle
  3. Nasal Rinse
  4. Avoid Dairy
  5. Go Gluten-Free

Details below.

1. Swallow, Swallow, Swallow

The natural tendency is to cough up the phlegm, so you can spit it out. It can work, but if you’re coughing a lot, it inflames the throat. So the standard advice given to singers is to swallow, rather than cough.



Eric Armstrong

Eric Armstrong has written books on weight loss, golf, meditation, & yoga. He even builds a Yoga Meditation Bench. Turns out it’s an Ancient Tradition!