There is nothing like a good virus to turn your otherwise busy week into a total mess. Your initial symptoms are harmless enough… little stuffy nose, a slight cough. OK… maybe you’re a tad warm, but it’s no big deal. A mere 24 hours later, the little bugger takes hold of all your faculties and will not let go. Suddenly you sound like a barking seal every time you feebly attempt to cough up a lung. Lovely.
Day four presents you with an interesting issue. You can’t speak. All that mucus you’ve managed to produce (oh Lordy, where does it all come from?!) has now left your sinuses and is sitting squarely on your vocal chords. When you do manage to utter a few words, it is rather frog-like. This is when you need to take heed from a stage performer who covets a heathy sounding voice. (Yes – me!)
1. Stay Hydrated. Now more than ever you need to replenish the fluids in your body. Drink lots of water. Avoid caffeinated beverages that dehydrate (I know…what a drag). Your vocal chords need all that moisture they can get to vibrate properly.
2. Rest. I know this sounds like an obvious one, but if you’re like me, you will likely want to push through your illness believing that by ignoring the symptoms, they will go away. Bottom line… go to bed and get some rest. Your body will thank you.
3. Avoid clearing your throat. Sure, that subtle clearing of your throat is much more pleasant to hear than a barking cough, but each time you make that noise you are creating a plosive sound that can damage your vocal chords. Be gentle with your voice and remove built up mucus by swallowing.
4. HUM! The best way to get your voice back to it’s old self is to warm up the vocal folds by gently humming. Believe it or not, whispering, speaking and singing are too harsh for a voice that has been burdened by sickness. When you produce the spoken word, you are forcing air through the vocal chords. Humming is a far better and far safer alternative.
5. Sip hot tea. A brilliant concoction I like to make is ginger tea with honey and lemon. It tends to tame your cough and it happens to taste delish.
A wonderful product I keep on hand (even when I’m healthy!) is Thayer’s Slippery Elm Lozenges. I know, everyone seems to want to pop in those curiously strong Altoids through the day, but the truth is that mints (and Eucalyptus products like Ricola) dry out your mouth. Slippery Elm coats your vocal chords and is the preferred treat of opera singers. If you’re planning on being at a loud dinner party or a crowded conference where everyone is shouting to be heard, pop in a Thayers. It works every time!
Enjoy the changing of the leaves, the fresh scent of Fall and the sounds of Football season…but be sure to wash your hands often!
P.S. Want more tips to stay healthy, speak well, and be at your best? Follow me on Twitter now!