As a professional voice actor, I need to keep my voice in shape for recording on an ongoing basis. Knowing this, people often ask me how they can keep their own voices in shape, and what they can do about their sore throats and head colds.
There are numerous home remedies for vocal problems. However, most of them are unpalatable or impractical. For example, no one really wants to ingest a whole clove of minced raw garlic with honey. Therefore, I am not going to list every tip in existence, but only those that I have found to be tolerable and effective.
Keeping Your Voice Healthy
Stay away from sick people, whenever possible. This includes finding polite reasons to change seats when seated next to someone who is sneezing and coughing.
If you are the parent of a sick baby, you are done for, and you might as well accept that you are going to be sick. Parenting a baby involves frequent and necessary contact, and no amount of hand washing will save you.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after touching anything that came in contact with someone sick.
If you have kids, teach them the importance of covering their mouths and noses when they cough and sneeze, and of tossing used tissues in the garbage can (instead of on the table or floor, where you will likely come in contact with the crumpled germ cornucopias).
- Drink, Drink, Drink!
Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining happy vocal folds. 8 or more cups of water a day is the recommended amount.
Treating a Sore Throat
- Red Pepper Flakes
For an itchy, sore throat, drink hot water with a light sprinkling of red pepper (chili) flakes. Let the mixture steep for a couple of minutes before drinking it. The flakes ease the itching, therefore helping prevent coughing.
- Cider Vinegar
For a phlegmy throat, drink hot water with cider vinegar (1 Tbsp cider vinegar to 1 c water). The vinegar loosens up the phlegm.
Use a humidifier in your room at night. If you do not have one, you can boil some water in a pot, drape a towel over your head and the pot, and breathe in the steam. Be careful not to get too close to the pot, so that you do not get burned!
- Throat Lozenges?
Lozenges can offer temporary relief, but if they contain menthol, they can dry your vocal folds.
Treating a Cold
- Nasal Sprays
Saline nasal sprays can help clear your nose. Chemical-based nasal spray are by far more effective, but they are also addictive if used for extended periods of time, and they can damage the nasal membrane.
- Down with the Drip!
Post-nasal drip can irritate your throat, causing you to cough all night long. However, with a little experimentation, you can find a position that alleviate post-nasal drip. For example, if you sleep on your side with a pillow under your head, let your head fall forwards slightly off the pillow, so that the dread drip goes forward, not backward.
- Cinnamon Tea
To reduce swelling of the vocal cords that occurs in laryngitis, add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to a cup, then pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Let it steep for 15 minutes and drink it down. It tastes truly horrible, but it definitely helps.
- Visit Your Doctor
Laryngitis should not last longer than two weeks, tops. If it does, then you had better visit your doctor.
Disclaimer: “I am not a doctor. I only play one in numerous medical voiceovers…” The information in this article does not replace the advice of a medical professional. When in doubt, visit your doctor!
Article by Victoria Feinerman