Musicians and Diabetes

For this week’s entry, we turn to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic, a wonderful organization in New Orleans.  From time to time, the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic has speakers on a range of topics that are of concern to musicians.  This blog is about managing diabetes.  You ask, “isn’t this a blog about hearing?”  and the answer is yes.  Diabetes reduces blood flow throughout the body, and this includes cochlear blood flow.  Diabetes can exacerbate one’s hearing loss, so management of diabetes is also management of one’s hearing.

With permission we would like to share Dr. Turshá Hamilton’s Practical Tips for Musicians Managing Diabetes.

Dr. Tursha Hamilton
Dr. Tursha Hamilton


Good health can be a bit of a challenge. For musicians, it can seem impossible. Long hours of practice and rehearsals. Late night gigs. Being on the road for days at a time. Traveling to unfamiliar places with limited resources. All this in addition to “regular” everyday life can cause good health practices to be put on the back burner.

Here’s the reality. Most musicians are dealing with at least one chronic disease. Many are dealing with more than one and trying to manage a sack full of medications on a daily basis because of it. Diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol…the list goes on. Here are tips to create a healthy life for New Orleans musicians who are always on-the-go.

  • Stay Hydrated: Singing, playing instruments and bright lights can be really dehydrating. Carry a refillable water bottle with you and have it filled multiple times. Next to your instrument, your water bottle is the most important thing you carry with you on gigs.
  • Bring a Snack: Carrying a healthful snack can help curb your appetite and prevent you from overindulging or from eating unhealthy foods because you are ‘starving.’ Fruits, veggie slices, fresh dips like hummus or nut butters, and raw or roasted nuts: each are portable and can help you avoid eating too much fried, high carbohydrate, low nutrient food choices.
  • Get Up and DANCE: Motion is life. Second line, two step… it doesn’t really matter. What matters is moving your body for an extended length of time and getting your heart rate up.
  • Breathe: Singers and musicians know how important controlled breathing is for performance. It’s just as important for life. Learning how to take slow, controlled, belly breaths on a regular basis can keep you in a relaxed state before, during and after a performance.
  • Pack Some Protein: Bring protein powder packets with you as you rehearse and when you travel. These little packets are convenient and can save you from eating too many hot sausage po boys, cold drinks and large fries when you are away from home.
  • Sleep it Off: Be sure to get at least 8 hours of continuous rest as often as possible. Playing late night gigs and being on the road can sometimes make this difficult, but try to get it in no matter what time of day.
  • Get Checked: See your health care provider and be proactive about your health. Get physical exams at least once a year (every 3 months if diabetic), eye exams, foot exams, and check blood pressure often.
  • Focus on Yourself: Musicians love to share their gifts with others, often at their own expense. Learn to focus more on your own health and wellbeing so that you can have more time and energy to give to others.

Good health doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be a beautiful and harmonious part of your everyday life. It, just like music, takes practice for you to get good at it. Once you do, you will be an unstoppable force.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Turshá Hamilton

Naturopathic Physician | Author | Speaker

About Marshall Chasin

Marshall Chasin, AuD, is a clinical and research audiologist who has a special interest in the prevention of hearing loss for musicians, as well as the treatment of those who have hearing loss. I have other special interests such as clarinet and karate, but those may come out in the blog over time.

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