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Curious About Singing


imapumpkin
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I read that singing can make POTS symptoms worse. I know you breathe differently when singing but does anyone know why medically/scientifically singing would be bad for POTS? I always have to stop myself from singing along to the radio, and its rough because I used to do musical theater and am a shower-singer and before POTS was constantly singing. I also find that belting out singing is really therapeutic for my anxiety. Does anyone have any insights? I'm just curious because I'm used to singing being something that makes me body feel better.

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I was just telling my husband today that every time a doctor uses a stethoscope on me and asks me to take several deep breaths I start to get very lightheaded. My husband said it doesn't happen to him so I'm thinking it is a symptom. I don't know what causes it exactly, but I imagine singing can cause the same response because singing can cause you to have to take many deep breaths. Of course, this is just a guess.

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I sing and play (guitar and keys) in our praise and worship team at church. I had been doing that for years before my sudden onset Sept 2011. I was unable to go to church for months, much less sing. At that time I tried to sing at home but couldn't simply bc I had so little breath. Almost overnight I went from having a fairly strong voice to not being able to eek out much of a sound.

I recall last December asking my ANS doc if he thought I'd ever sing again. I wanted to get back to singing more than anything. I wanted to sing more than I wanted to drive. I was cautiously optimistic when he said he thought I'd eventually get back to singing.

In March I started back with the praise and worship team very part time- and at first it was all guitar because I was still only able to eek out a small sound. I gradually added one song sining, then two, etc. Now I'm still part time with the team (but I'm more on than off) as I only go in when I'm feeling up to it but I am singing on most every song.

I clearly don't have the chops I had before but I'm able to stay on pitch and harmonize and lead as needed. I do notice my voice has a greater tendency to "crack" but it's not too bad.

All that said, I almost always begin to faint at the end of a set and need special aids to help me participate. I have all sorts of

countermanuvers and techniques for preventing a faint including the moment the set is done I go in the back and lie down- sometimes for the rest of the service. I pump my ankles, use a stool drink both coffee and Gatorade or water. I grab my stool and do fist pumps and frequently stretch my neck and back. Most people who see me sing would never know there is something wrong but people who know me well know it is a sacrifice. Usually if I sing/ play Sunday morning I will spend the rest of my day in bed but that is okay. I love it and it is one way I can still be an active part of our church body.

One side note, I think the exercise program I've been on has really helped. Incidentally that started in March too. It was pitiful exercise on an EkG under nursing supervision at the start- now I work w a trainer, exercise aerobic and strength for 1 hr 3/4 x a wk and I am gradually doing more upright exercise. I know I wouldn't be singing like I am now without that strength building.

I hope you return to singing soon. Some of my best songs used to be in the shower. (don't sing in shower any more bc I can't- too symptomatic.)

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Ok, I hadn't heard this, but it totally explains why lately I get that potsy feeling when I try to sing my son a lullaby... I knew I felt odd when the doctor had me hold my breath too, just didn't understand why.

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Yeah, me too. It's one of the things I miss the most. I LOVE to sing. I have to sit to sing or forget it and even with sitting to sing - I get light headed, dizzy and ringing in my ears and the world gets a fine haze around it. But, I still do it any way. When I'm done, my tachy is really bad. I know there are some POTsies on here that are still able to sing ----I've very envious of them. I really miss it. I miss dancing too.

I was able to do these things when I was younger and I know I had POTS then. So, not sure why things got so much worse later on.

Issie

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I remember that years ago it somehow came into our converstion and I told my doc that I couldn't sing anymore (I thought it too stiupid to tell him earlier). He told me that he wasn't surprised at all as he said the body cuts off everything that you don't "need" to do as the brain needs the blood first. And that was just how it felt for me: as soon as I tried singing (with the radio) it felt as if it got cut off. I was so glad that where I felt soooo stupid it was actually quite "natural".

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I used to sing in a Ladie's Ensemble and in the Church Choir - I had to give it up about a year and a half ago due to the dysautonomia. The best I can figure out is that intrathoracic pressures are altered when singing. To sing properly, it requires control of the diaphragm and rate of exhalation. These both cause changes in the pressures within the chest causing a decrease blood supply and subsequent dizziness, lightheadedness, and near syncope. I tried sitting on a bar-type stool to sing but, it didn't help with the change in blood volume in the chest. So, no more singing for me.

I am, however, a pianist and accompany a men's gospel quartet - we have a lot of fun performing - they are great! I'm also playing in other venues (weddings, funerals, receptions, etc..) so, I have not totally given up music!

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Also not able to sing here - I used to sing while walking pre-POTS and now when I try I get pretty lightheaded. Same issue using my peak flow meter for asthma. The way I think about it is this - did you ever do a Valsalva while getting tested for POTS? The Valsalva made me really lightheaded, as does any type of controlled breathing (under exercise, or at the doctor's, etc), and we know that most folks with POTS have an abnormal Valsalva response. So it makes some sense that any time of controlled breathing - especially any type of forced exhalation like a Valsalva, peak flow, or singing for that matter! - would trigger similar issues.

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I was just telling my husband today that every time a doctor uses a stethoscope on me and asks me to take several deep breaths I start to get very lightheaded. My husband said it doesn't happen to him so I'm thinking it is a symptom. I don't know what causes it exactly, but I imagine singing can cause the same response because singing can cause you to have to take many deep breaths. Of course, this is just a guess.

I think that's a great guess. When you take a deep breath or are singing, you're stimulating the Vagus nerve, which lowers your heart rate, blood pressure or both - which can lead to feeling light headed. Interestingly enough, the "Parasympathetic innervation of the heart" is controlled by the Vagus nerve, and the "Parasympaethic" nervous system is "one of the three main divisions of the autonomic nervous system". So it would make sense that POTS patients are much more affected by stimulation of the Vagus nerve through holding your breath, taking deep breaths and singing.

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Well I'm not much of a singer, so people wouldn't be missing out on me not singing. :) I have noticed when my symptoms are flaring, I do sometimes have a tough time singing. I played the flute for 15 years, and I can't get too far with that without almost passing out anymore. The strange place that I notice issues with is at times when I'm trying to read my daughter bedtime stories. Sometimes I feel out of breath and like I'm struggling to keep up. It's really odd and annoying! I love my time with her before bed to snuggle and read so I hope it doesn't continue to get worse.

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hholmes, I had the exact thing when my boys were small, bedtime reading was really difficult. I just didn't understand (and didn't dare ask others as I had so many strange things going on. this was before getting diagnosed of course :))

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I absolutely love to sing. As sick as I was with dizziness and vertigo, I kept singing!! One day I was so dizzy that my friend who stands by me in choir held me up, and I've almost fallen over several times and did once, but I keep on!! Singing praise is what I live for, it lifts me up to be an encouragement and support to others. There have been times that my vision has failed too, but I continue to do it, because I know it is also therapeutic for my circulation and my lungs. I drink plenty of fluids before hand and that helps with the hypovolemia. I also do a cardio workout on the elliptical now. I started on the stationery bike, because the dizziness was so bad, but it always made me feel better, even though I was fatigued. I have never fainted, but I know what to do when I feel the urge of fainting, since I am a nurse. I've blacked out a few times, but was always able to come back after sitting with my head down or lying down. All the people in choir at church that are around me know about my condition, so I'm safe if something should occur. I believe the more you do it, the better it will get over time; the same goes for exercising, if you are put on the proper medication to help you in the process. :) Don't stop trying!! :rolleyes:

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  • 3 months later...

Interesting update...I've had a much easier time singing since my valve surgery. I am also on metoprolol now maybe that is related as well? but whereas before my surgery I could barely singing normally and certainly couldnt belt, I'm finding that I'm able to sing right along with my itunes again. I do get tired easily and my heart rate goes up, but it doesnt feel the same as before when I felt like I was running out of enough air to sing. At least one improvement =)

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this has been a problem at church. I usually sing the first verse and then mouth the rest.

I get very short of breath, dizzy, floating feeling, and weak when i sing.

I think its probably about STRAINING THE VESSELS IN YOUR HEAD than it is about oxygen levels.

Ive noticed with my CPAP that if I dont have the pressure inhale/exhale right, it causes the exact kind of strain.

I call it respirational exertion. Its probably similiar to what migraine sufferers experience, and similar to getting

a hangover.

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  • 10 months later...

Just diagnosed with POTS Oct 21 2013....my husband & I attend the North American Jewish Choral Festival a 4 day singing intensive (small group choir practice 1.5 hour twice a day and lots of other singing---with the shortness of breath issues I am thinking this year I should attend in the "for Observers" mode---still fun just no singing. Sad for the loss....just one of many in just 2 months.

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I have found myself skipping words when I sing to take an extra breath. I really miss singing in the car.

I also have times when my voice just goes squeaky. Especially on high notes. Anybody know what causes that?? I mentioned it to an endocrinologist once (before I got the dysautonomia diagnosis) and she didn't have any ideas.

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