10 secrets of speakers and singers to help you beat cold and allergy season

AS A PROFESSIONAL SPEAKER OR SINGER, IT IS UNDESIRABLE TO MISS WEEKS OF WORK DUE TO LOSS OF YOUR VOICE. Naturally, missing some time due to illness is understandable. However, poorly managing common colds and allergies can result in consecutive weeks of time where the voice is incapacitated. You may be otherwise well enough to work, but your voice refuses to cooperate because the vocal cords are covered with mucus and unable to function normally. The result is fatter vocal cords, a lower voice, complete loss of voice, or loss of upper range. Here are 10 secrets of speakers and singers to help you beat cold and allergy season without missing more engagements than necessary.

NOTE: This post must not be considered medical advice or take the place of consultation with a medical professional. If you are ill or suffer from a chronic condition, seek the care and treatment of medical professionals. Talk to a doctor before implementing any of the below methods and remedies to ensure they are right for you and your symptoms, and to be sure you understand possible side effects of any medication.

1. Hydration. Drink at least 100 ounces of water per day. Include in your hydration something with electrolytes such as coconut water. Apple juice can also be beneficial and can be cut with water 50% to reduce sugar. Hot tea (naturally decaffeinated) with honey and lemon is soothing and beneficial. Avoid caffeine which dehydrates. Normal hydration should include 64-100 ounces of liquid per day. If you have drainage and congestion, you need extra fluid to help thin it out. You should need to urinate frequently as you exceed your normal fluid intake and urine should be clear.

2. Apples and bananas. These fruits are great for lubricating the vocal folds. Also, eat greens and generally healthy whole, clean, lean foods. The day of speaking or singing, avoid foods that cause excess congestion including oily or greasy foods like bacon and dairy. Unsalted nuts and berries make great snacks!

3. Hot showers. Take one to two lengthy hot showers daily being sure to allow the hot water to run over your nose and face. The steam will help open your system and thin mucus.

4. Sinus rinse. Neilmed products clear out drainage in the sinuses and throat which collects on your vocal cords. Use twice daily or as directed.

5. Humidifier. A cool mist humidifier in your bedroom at night may help to ease coughing and congestion.

6. Zinc oxide tablets or lozenges. If taken early, some studies suggest zinc can reduce cold symptoms from lasting 14 days down to 7. The name brand may be worth the extra expense as the off brands tend to taste very badly and leave an after taste.

7. Cough medicine. In particular, Guaifenesin / Dextromethorphan. Robitussin DM and Mucinex are common over the counter remedies. Your doctor may prescribe something stronger as a cough suppressant, antihistamine, and decongestant such as Brompheniramine-Pseudoephedrine-DM. Cough drops and stronger cough suppressants such as Tessalon perles may be helpful if plagued by a severe uncontrollable cough. Hard candies and cough drops can help induce salivation and lubricate the vocal folds, but avoid menthol which strips the vocal folds.

8. Prednisone. Taking a prescription steroid and anti-inflammatory can almost miraculously help you regain your normal voice in as little as 6 hours. Note that if you wait until you develop a severe cough, the cough may still hinder your vocal performance until the congestion is cleared. Talk to your doctor about allowing you to keep Prednisone on hand to avoid losing precious time scheduling an appointment and filling prescriptions. If that cannot be arranged, consider subscribing to a virtual doctor to enable you to see a doctor over web cam or phone and get your prescription ordered quickly.

9. Allergy medication or therapy. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to proactively manage your allergies with a daily medication or more involved allergy therapy to reduce flair ups before they become debilitating.

10. Antibiotics. If you have a sinus infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help you fight the infection more quickly.

While the above remedies may sound like a lot of work, a diligent regiment is generally necessary to prevent colds and allergies from progressing to the point of hindering vocal health and performance. Your voice is a vital instrument for your ministry in the church, and therefore deserves your care and attention.


Dr. Christopher Scott Wyatt, Full Time Preacher at New Richmond Church of Christ, Professor of Voice at Cincinnati Christian University, and Former Professor of Voice at Xavier University. Dr. Wyatt studied Voice Pedagogy at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, obtained his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance at Illinois Wesleyan University, and also studied at Florida College.

Dan Parilis: Dan has been one of New York’s premier voice teachers for over 20 years. With locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island, New York, Dan has helped a wide assortment of singers of all ages, styles and proficiency levels to eliminate tension, increase their ranges, correct pitch problems, work through performance anxiety, and develop vocal power, stamina, & control. http://www.vocalbrilliance.com/


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