Do you experience discomfort or even throbbing pain after gigs? While this isn’t likely to be a cause for concern, it can be prevented and cured.
If you have a headache after singing high notes, you’re not doing it quite right. Singing can trigger migraines, but by breathing correctly, supporting the sound and ensuring your body is in tip-top condition, you can reduce or eradicate them.
When you’re crippled by head pain, you want a cure and fast. The quickest way to fight it is to identify the root cause and take action. Read this article to save yourself time and suffering.
I have a headache after singing high notes
Headaches are a real affliction. They may affect your whole wellbeing, preventing you being able to continue daily life to its fullest. Some can completely wipe you out. If you get headaches frequently, you might need to investigate your singing technique. Singing in your head voice can bring one on if you don’t do it properly.
When singing in your head voice, you’ll be able to feel vibrations in your head or skull and these can get intense if not kept in check with enhanced airflow and controlled breathing. If you don’t use a good breath control technique when trying to hit high notes, you can strain your vocal cords and induce a headache too. This can be easily be resolved by warming up before you sing, and by always breathing from your diaphragm.
Causes of a headache after singing
A really general rule during singing is that if it hurts, you’re doing something wrong. If you get a headache from performing high notes, your breathing technique or tension in your body might be to blame.
There can be several causes of headaches after singing. The main ones are:
- Pushing your vocals too hard
- Singing above your comfortable range
- Poor breathing technique is causing pressure in your body and head
- Your muscles are tense while you sing
- Headache from singing high notes
- Head hurts when singing
- You’re nervous about singing and this is making your body stressed
Can singing trigger migraines?
The causes of migraines aren’t completely understood, but they tend to be recurrent and happen more frequently in females than males. A migraine can be triggered by bright lights and loud noise, making singers more susceptible to them when they’re on stage. Some types of migraines involve a visual disturbance with no pain. Symptoms of migraines may include:
- Intense throbbing on one side of the head
- Pins and needles
- Visual disturbances like seeing flickering spots and lights known as aura
- Sensitivity to light, smell, and sound
- Nausea and vomiting
Too much physical pressure when singing can cause tension headaches, or stress headaches. They’re one of the most common types of head pain, and around 80% of adults experience them from time to time. These types of headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of days. They often start later in the day and come on gradually. Here are the signs to look out for:
- Dull pain or tightness
- Pain around your forehead or back of your head and neck
- Mild sensitivity to light or noise
- Inability to concentrate
Can singing cause headaches?
Singing high notes requires more air. If you don’t breathe from your diaphragm, you won’t get enough air into your system to fuel both your body and voice while you try to reach that higher register. This can cause you to run out of breath easily and makes you come over lightheaded or bring on a headache.
Pushing your voice too hard to reach a high note can also bring on a headache. If you strain your vocal cords while you sing, muscles in the larynx can put pressure on veins in the throat and this can stop blood flowing to your head properly.
A lot of singers tense the face while singing without realising it. Holding tension in your forehead, jaw or eyes can cause muscle strain and this can lead to tension headaches.
One easy way to tell if you’re tensing your forehead is to look out for wrinkles. If your forehead creases while you sing or if your eyebrows lift, then you’re straining your facial muscles. If you notice yourself squinting or a tight feeling behind your eyes, you’re also holding tension there too.
Sinus headache after singing
Blocked sinuses can wreak havoc for your singing voice. Whether it’s a cold or allergies blocking your nose, the congestion in your sinuses can also cause a headache. You can tell you have a sinus headache if you experience:
- A feeling of fullness in your ears
- Throbbing head
- Pressure around your eyes, cheeks, and forehead
- A runny nose
Decongestants and antihistamines can help relieve a sinus headache, but singers should be wary of these as these can dry out your vocal cords. Steaming the voice is a better option and will give you a lovely release from that congestion.
You might have heard of migraines and headaches before, but there are actually many types of head pain. The various forms of headaches all feel different and have their own instigators – including coughing.
Exertional headaches are usually brought on by physical activity and strenuous movement. This can include singing, especially if you’re up on-stage dancing and moving about. But also excessive coughing. Have you ever had a headache after days of a respiratory bug? This is why. Coughing is actually very taxing on the body when over a prolonged period. Try to reduce it with natural remedies and sipping on warm honey and lemon.
Does singing help headaches?
Singing is really good for your health and mental wellbeing. Music can actually help ease the pain of headaches and migraines too.
The vibrations created by singing can help soothe and dissipate headaches. But if you don’t feel up to singing at the time, listening to gentle, soft music can also help alleviate a headache too. Some medications can make you prone to headaches, so check leaflets for side effects. Lack of sleep can also bring on a headache. So if your headache is caused by one of these, a good sing may well help.
How do I make my headache go away?
Exposure to bright lights and loud noises makes singers more susceptible to headaches. Lots of vocalists complain of headaches and light-headedness after singing. Singers don’t have to suffer in silence – there are headache remedies that won’t hinder your voice.
Your first instinct might be to reach for painkillers when you have a headache – but this can be counterproductive for singers. Aspirin and ibuprofen can dry out your vocal cords and affect your voice.
Try these remedies instead to fight a headache and keep your voice safe:
- Put an ice pack on your forehead
- Apply a heat pack to your neck or shoulders
- Drink lots of water – dehydration is a major cause of headaches
- Try to eat something
- Apply lavender oil to your temples
- Massage your scalp
- Lie down in a dark room
- Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques
- Try taking B vitamins or eating foods rich in them
A headache is the last thing you need after a performance. Head pain can strike in the middle of a gig and can become excruciating under the glare of bright lights. But a combination of prevention, correct singing technique and the cures we’ve mentioned will help keep them at bay and under control.
- Why do I get dizzy when I sing?
If you feel dizzy when you sing, it’s most likely due to stress on your vocal cords and a lack of air. Straining your voice when you sing can cause tension in your larynx, and this can hinder your breathing and restrict airflow to your brain. If you don’t have enough oxygen circulating around your body you’ll get dizzy.
- What’s a hypertension headache?
These are caused by an increase in blood pressure. The nerves, adrenaline and excitement associated with live performance can cause your blood pressure to rise. If you get regular hypertension headaches you may need to change your diet or take medication to help bring your blood pressure down.
- What does it mean when you have a pounding headache?
Common reasons for pounding headaches include eye strain, exposure to loud noise for a prolonged period, stress, a virus, tension and pressure, a natural propensity for migraines, or it may point toward a more serious problem. If this is frequent and severe, chat to your doctor.
Have you overcome headaches after singing high notes? Perhaps you’re a vocalist who suffers from migraines? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.