Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I’M ALLERGIC TO EVERYTHING! Safe Treatments for Singers: Part 2

By Christi Amonson
When my students tell me they are having allergy problems and are thinking about getting a Kenalog shot I immediately advise them not to! Here's why I advise them to ask for oral steroids instead. Both forms of steroids offer rapid relief from allergic inflammation, but here’s the deal: Intramuscular injections, also known as the Kenalog shot, are a larger, time-released dose of steroids, which stay in the system for four to six weeks – therefore, the risk of negative side effects is higher than the MUCH preferred oral steroids or prednisone. Long term side effects for both forms of steroids include migraines, weight gain, fat redistribution, extended menstrual periods, cataracts, bone demineralization, aseptic necrosis of femoral head, anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, and indentations in the area of the shot – up to the size of a baseball! I hope this puts the fear of God in you and the next time a doctor offers to give you the Kenalog shot, please ask about Prednisone instead!

Specialists often prescribe oral steroids such as Prednisone in a short burst, over a three to five day period, to immediately reduce swelling – this can help a singer with laryngitis or severe congestion to reduce laryngeal edema in order to get through a performance. As with any medical prescription, results vary and only a doctor can safely advise you! I have found Prednisone to be incredibly helpful when needed. Short-term side effects for Prednisone bursts are rare, but most commonly include upset stomach, restlessness, water retention and increased appetite. Dosing should be given in morning with food to combat potential side effects. The bottom line in the steroid debate is how long do you want this stuff in your system? If you react negatively, you want it out of your system the day you stop taking the pill, not six weeks later when the shot wears off!

If you find that over the counter remedies or Prednisone just aren’t doing the trick, the best therapy for long-term relief of allergic symptoms is Immunotherapy or allergy shots. These are small, weekly injections proven to be safe and effective that strengthens immunity without vocal side effects. To stop your suffering, get to a board certified Allergist for testing and medical advice. My hope is that this article gets you through the day and that your doc will guide you through the process of fighting allergies for life!

Picture courtesy of Mojpe via