Last winter, my tone started becoming thin and sputtery due to chapped lips. It got so bad, I gave up playing for January, February and March. Figuring I was safe in April, no longer having to walk the dog in winter winds, I restarted, with the same problem. When May rolled around with no improvement, I started trying various lip balms and increasing my water intake. Didn't help much. My lips got raw and sore, and I had to take a week off. Anytime I wasn't smearing lip balm on, I swear I could feel my lips drying out by the minute.
The answer finally hit me yesterday.
Back in fall, I got hit with a whopping case of acid reflux, and had to make some diet changes. The spicy frozen burrito I had for lunch at work every day was out, and I replaced it with instant ramen bowls. (Fast, cheap, easy, relatively non-perishable and microwaveable.)
It didn't occur to me that slurping hot salty noodles over my lips three to five times a week might be the problem, but after a day or two without, my lips are already feeling softer and less raw.
Ah, man...what to take for lunch now?