With Winter just around the corner, the dreaded cold and flu season isn’t far behind. These bugs can wreak havoc with our voices and it’s important to know how to handle them.
Firstly, if you have a cold – DON’T SING. Your voice needs time to rest, trying to sing before it’s had that time to recover will only put them through unwarranted stress. Before trying to sing, make sure you try these tips to help your voice recover.
1. Drink LOTS of water
It’s that advice again! In all seriousness, many illnesses can cause the body to hold less water, so making sure you get those fluids in your system is even more important than usual.
Normally, we wouldn’t suggest ice water as the cold can shock your vocal cords, however, ice water can help reduce swelling. If you fancy mixing it up even more, a bit of lemon juice can give you a good shot of vitamin C to speed up your recovery.
The remedy most singers swear by is hot water, honey and lemon. Evidence suggests that honey has a protective effect against up to 60 kinds of germ and its thick texture helps soothe the throat, curbing irritation and reduce coughing which can tear the throat. It’s also a lot nicer than just plain old water. Additionally, the sugars in honey are helpful in fueling your body, especially if you don’t feel like swallowing – Lucozade was actually developed originally for people who were unwell and need that energy.
Pineapple or Grapefruit juice are also good if lemon doesn’t agree with you.
2. Get a little steamy
Not like that! Inhaling steam is a great way of lubricating the vocal cords and loosening phlegm (I know – gross but super helpful).
To do this safely, first, boil a kettle and gently pour the water into a large bowl. It’s important not to do it with water on the boil, say on a hob, as this can lead to scalding water hitting you in the face, which none of us want. The ideal distance from the surface of the water is 8-12 inches from the surface of the water.
When we drink, the fluid doesn’t pass directly over our vocal cords thanks to a little muscle that stops things accidentally ending up in our lungs. This, of course, means that the vocal cords themselves are not directly soothed by drinking. Steam, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to snake its way about our respiratory system and ease inflammation.
3. If you absolutely must sing – avoid lozenges
This is a bit trickier than the catchy headline suggests. Some lozenges contain painkillers which numb your throat and convince you you’re better than you really are. This can lead to you overtaxing your voice before it’s ready and causing long-lasting damage.
Other lozenges will dry out your throat, creating dryness which can irritate your throat more – it’s a temporary relief.
However, instead of suffering through, there are loads of anti-inflammatory drinks you can try:
Aloe vera juice,
Apple cider vinegar,
Concord grape juice
4. Get plenty of rest.
When you’re asleep, your body runs repairs naturally. Being asleep also means you’re not wasting energy doing anything but fighting the illness.
There’s also the long-term health benefits of a proper sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can compromise our immune system making us more likely to succumb to something nasty.
Obviously, rest doesn’t always mean sleep though. Take things easy, don’t exert yourself too much and save your strength for fighting that pesky illness.