How I hate how this continual changing of the weather from one extreme to the other. For singers, it can lead to some discomfort. If you allow your immune system to run low, it may cause the sniffles, the scratchies, or the sand paper voice box. In other words, it can lead to colds, sinus infections, coughing, congesting or dry throat. We, as singers must be prepared to deal with these situations, especially since they can affect our vocal performance. So, here are a few quick tips to beat all three:
Yeah, I said it, just don’t cough. Easier said than done. Of course, if it’s a full-blown cough, you may have to wait it out. OTC cough syrups and cough drops may suppress the symptoms but it still dries out the throat, so I stay away from this route. Instead, I’ll crank up the steamer/humidifier and maybe turn to Herba-Tussin by Traditional Medicinals for a natural cough syrup. This product is made by the same company as Throat Coat Tea. I’ve also found that a steamer with a tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar will help to alleviate the continual coughing.
This is another ‘easier said than done’ situation. Man oh man, sneezing really messes me up. When I sneeze, I sneeze like there’s a demon in my throat. It’s the one thing that can cause me some trouble vocally. So, I keep my sinuses flushed by using a Neti-Pot by NeilMed. Also, when I feel a sneeze coming on and I can’t prevent it, I allow the pitch of my voice to go high as I sneeze. This keeps the sneezing action from being low, guttural and forced. A throaty sneeze is what allows the vocal cord swelling will set in. Also, when you feel a sneeze coming on, head to a sink and splash your face with water. This has always helped to stop my sneezing. If possible, easily clearn your sinuses by blowing softly into a tissue. Heavy blowing will only aggravate the irritant that is causing you to sneeze, so take the easy route. If sneezing still causes problems, check out the Sinus Clear Out formula which is available HERE.
Don’t Clear Your Throat
This is a habit I’ve seen many singers possess. A constant “ahem” to fling the phlegm. This is as bad as coughing and sneezing and will keep the cords irritated. However, it can be a sign of lack of water as well. Singers need plenty of water to keep the throat moist. If you’re drinking caffeine products or alcoholic beverages, both will dry out the voice. So, start by drinking plenty of fresh, clean water daily. Make sure it’s at least room temperature. Cold water tends to tense the muscles in the throat. It will also help your throat clearing habit if you start using a humidifier at night while you sleep. There are many portable humidifiers on the market that allow you to attach a 20-ounce water bottle for a one-night supply of air-aqua. It may take several days to get that hydration back into the cords, so you may still feel the need to clear your throat. So, pay attention to your voice. When the feeling comes, fight, fight, fight against it.
If you truly feel that you must clear your throat, I suggest that you try this trick- Suck on your bottom lip for 10-15 seconds like a piece of hard candy. This will work the phlegm loose from the cords. Then, lightly cough, keeping the volume as soft as possible so that you can easily shake the phlegm from the cords without irritating them. This is much less taxing than clearing the throat the old habitual way, which slams the cords together like smacking your hands.
If you suffer from coughing, sneezing or clearing your throat, I’m hoping this blog provides you with some relief. If you’re reading this and the damage is already done, or you want a preventative program to keep your voice in shape, I suggest Superior Vocal Health products, which you can find HERE. You can learn more vocal tricks from my book Raise Your Voice, available with my full vocal program The Ultimate Vocal Workout.