Yes, it’s the dreaded bane of voice artists everywhere: the common cold. Common, they may be, but for voice actors it can be devastating. Our voice is our livelihood!
The secret, if you can do it, is to avoid the cold completely. Or stop it in its tracks right at onset. Or limit its virulence and length. How? Paying attention to daily habits can save you a horrible cold, and if you contract one anyway, try these tips and ideas:
1). Drink lots of water. All the time. Every day. Without fail. Got it? In the winter the air inside and out is dryer than usual, so your vocal cords can be stressed with the relatively low humidity. Add to this the fact that we all tend to drink lots of coffee and tea to warm up, which dehydrates you further! So drink eight glasses of water a day.
2) Stay well away from people with colds, wash your hands often, don’t touch your nose or face with your hands until you’ve washed them well. Eat well, sleep well exercise regularly – follow all the obvious “take care of yourself” guidelines you know.
3) First sign of a cold, breathe steam ASAP. Lean over a pot of just-boiled water, with a towel draped over your head, and breathe in the steam through your nose and mouth. This will open up the sinus passages and the moist heat will restore the natural healthy environment of your nose, mouth and throat. A “neti” pot is great to take with you and keep rinsing out your sinuses this way, even in the restroom of the studio or audition hall.
4) Then run for the nutrients and herbs:
OSCILLOCOCCINUM: If you think it might be the flu (body aches as well) take a dose of homeopathic Oscillococcinum (from the health food store) every hour for three doses. Just the first day. Homeopath friends of ours tell us to do this even if you’re not sure it is the flu, as there is no harm done by taking it.
VITAMIN C: Ester C or Calcium Ascorbate is best, as it is easier on the stomach. Some nutritionist suggest as much as 2 grams at a time, and we know people who take 15 grams in a day to fend off a cold. We aren’t nutritionists, so we simply suggest you consult your own practitioner, or read Dr. Weil*, Dr. OZ*, or Dr. Mercola* for recommendations.
VITAMIN D: There is lots of research which confirms Vitamin D as an immunity booster, and the fact is we get less of this vitamin in the winter, due to the reduced amount of sunshine. Again, consult your practitioner or Dr. Mercola* for amounts.
BETA CAROTENE: (which is the vegetable form of Vitamin A): Eat lots of carrots! Seriously, beta carotene is part of the cocktail that helps you fend off a cold.
ZINC LOZENGES: Slowly suck a Zinc lozenge at the first sign of a sore throat or cold. Research suggests zinc inhibits the cold virus.*
OTHER GOOD IDEAS:
Eat lots of garlic and onions; i.e. onion soup with a clove of garlic in it. Onion soup is marvelous for expectoration; it clears mucus from the system.
Avoid sugar and alcohol as they feed the virus and weaken the immune system.
Slippery elm bark is soothing for sore throat, as a tea or in lozenges.
For a cough, try elderberry syrup and peppermint. Some cough syrups at the health food store are made with elderberry, and peppermint is wonderful as a tea.
Also, be sure to cough softly or not at all. Coughing and clearing your throat can strain the vocal cords, which of course can extend the time you voice is not available to you!
So, what’s the all-around best advice for maintaining your voice during this cold and flu season? Avoid getting them in the first place, and this is best done by always keeping a personal water bottle with you (don’t share it!), and sanitize your hands as often as possible.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~