Every singer, no matter how careful they are of their instrument, has times when they have cheered a bit too much for their team, or had three weeks of cold and flu, and feel plain vocally awful.
Here are some tips that will bring you back to health and ensure complete healing for your voice. The key is to reduce trauma to your chords and create a throat environment that is comfortable for you.
1. ALWAYS drink water. Especially when a cold is coming on, force 8-12 glasses (about one liter) within 24 hours and you will have a shorter recovery time. To flush out a cold completely in three days or less, buy Alkalol. It is an older remedy you can purchase from a pharmacist. You use it intra-nasally. Directions are on the bottle. It will flush out your cold, and will take gunk off your chords when you have to sing a show. It is the best. I have used it many times, and it has saved performance night for many of my students.
2. Don't sing loudly to open your chords. When vocal chords feel compromised, by cold, smoke or singing too loudly, they produce more mucus to protect themselves. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: sing loud to blow open your chords = muddy sound and uncomfortable, swollen, "gunky" chords. Nobody likes to feel like this when they sing!
3. Avoid ice. It constricts the chords.
4. Avoid alcohol. It robs your body of water, and swells your chords. Dry swollen chords are the worst. Don't do it.
5. Do use a steam inhalant, especially if your upper bronchial tree is congested. It will help keep your breathing passages open and in turn will keep your chords clear of hazardous phlegm that would otherwise kick upwards onto your chords.
6. Lozenges are good. I recommend Ricola and Slippery Elm lozenges. Do not use Halls Mentholyptus when you have to sing. They are too strong and are drying. You just want to lubricate and calm the chords. These two products do it nicely. You can also try Black Currant Pastilles if you are allergic to the mint in Ricola.
7. VOICE REST. Be quiet. Write notes. Listen more. Nod your head. Find alternative ways to communicate. Make it fun, but do not speak to everything!
8. No Whispering. If you have to speak, do it in as normal a voice as you can manage.
9. No throat clearing. All this does is bang your chords together. Take a deep breath in over your chords, and yawn to break throat tension. You will find the need to clear your throat will lessen when you get in the habit of deep breathing instead of clearing the throat. 10. Do not smoke. Do you love your voice? Do not smoke. Period.
11. Avoid food 3-4 hours before going to sleep. There are many reasons for this. When you are digesting in your sleep, sometimes stomach acid is kicked up into your throat and it causes some minor to major burning. Your chords need to heal and be soothed 24-7 after an illness. Nighttime counts.
12. Try to eat bland food, not heavy spices. Same reason as above.
13. Elevate your head when you sleep. If you use 2-3 pillows, fluids will drain away from your chords more easily. Breathing will stay easy and you will feel the need to cough less.
14. Use a nasal wash daily. Find one of the following for daytime use: AYR, NASAL, or SALINEX. These are sprays you can use in each nostril 3-6 times a day. Used regularly, they actually help keep you healthy.
15. Waste no time. If you have been to a doctor and he or she has diagnosed nodes or lesions on your chords, get help immediately. Vocal therapy is necessary to save your voice.
"Sing like you mean it!"
Dianne Legro is a voice specialist and speech coach for professionals. For the past 18 years Dianne has worked with Fortune 500 Companies, like Starbucks and GE, and top government agencies to optimize leadership & communication skills. As a veteran Broadway stage performer, Dianne knows how mastering public speaking & performing can catapult your career, and her expert coaching makes your process a fun, meaningful exploration into your best self. Dianne offers keynote speeches, group workshops, and sees clients one-on-one in the Los Angeles area or on the phone.