5 Booming Tips for Voice Actors When You Get Sick

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As a voiceover artist, when you catch a cold, it really sucks. Recently I caught the bug and I had the whole shebang.  Coughs, sore throat, runny nose, chills, you name it.  After about a week, the runny nose stopped but I became congested and a tickle remained in my throat. Every time I tried to speak it would send me into these cough spasms and my voice kept cracking.   

So here are some tips and tricks I’ve used to help soothe my vocal frustrations when I’m sick.

Disclaimer: This is my personal experience, and am not a medical professional, so do not take the following as medical advice. I’m simply sharing what works for me when I get sick. There are also some referral links. If you grab it, I get a small commission. However, there’s no extra cost to you.

Prioritize Rest

This means:

a). Sleep as much as you can so your body can properly heal as quickly as possible

Listen to your body and what it needs. Our body constantly communicates with us what it needs but we choose to not listen to it and want to push through. Don’t push it. This means not using your vocals and anything that requires you to use too much physical or brain power.  Take a break.

If you are currently performing or in the middle of a project, try and negotiate for rest. Most clients (if you’re not on set for film and TV) can understand. If you’re unable to negotiate the turnaround time you may have to forego the work. At the end of the day you want don’t want to compromise your voice and the quality of your work.

b). Don’t Whisper

You might think when my voice is back but not at 100%, I’ll whisper. Don’t!

It may sound like a great idea but it’s not. Save your voice when it’s tired or not at 100%.

The Reason

Your vocal cords are coated by a thin mucous membrane that needs to stay lubricated and hydrated. This is so that as it collides, there’s not too much friction created to cause irritation.

When you whisper, what happens is the air quickly passes the vocal folds, it dries out the mucous. In the process, it reduces the self-lubricate so when your vocal folds flapping against each other, it doesn’t create the clear buzzing sound, but it’s raspy. Your vocal cords then get swollen and irritated and strained rather than relieve and help ease it.

During this time of rest, if your voice is not at 100% but your energy is back, you can focus and catch up on other aspects of your business that doesn’t require your voice (i.e. marketing, building your pipeline, business administration, website maintenance, etc.)

Double your Fluid Intake

Drink plenty of fluids. Water is your best friend. It helps to keep your vocal cords hydrated while flush out the bugs which will help you recover faster. Gargle salt water to help with sore throat.

 

Warm water with fresh lemon is my main go to or peppermint tea. And if you can get your hand on loquat syrup in Chinese it’s called (Pei Pa Koa)  it’ll an Asian remedy with traditional herbs that help to reduce phlegm, soothes your throat, and reduces coughs.

 

Another Chinese remedy for cough relief is to boil Asian / Bartlett pears for 20 minutes and simmer for 20 minutes and drink the soup. Pears are known to be a cooling fruit and has anti-inflammatory properties. It’s very good for our lungs and our throat and it helps to clear away inflammation, get rid of phlegm, brightens up your skin (which is a bonus for us ladies), and is great for hydration.  

Choose Foods that Helps to Boost Immune System and are Easy to Digest

I love congee, porridge, and chicken soup. Up your Vitamin C intake, my body naturally craves oranges. Some people take additional supplements like Emergen-C, and I love getting a germ kick booster at my local juicery store where it contains cayenne, oregano oil, Echinacea, honey, lemon, ginger, and turmeric.

Steam Inhalation

To relieve the congestion, I love taking a hot shower or a DIY simple steam inhalation at home.

Boil the water, and fill it into a bowl. Sit and lean your face over the bowl. You can add 2 to 3 drops of essential oil like peppermint or eucalyptus. Wrap your head in a bath towel to trap the steam in. Breathe in and out for 10-20 minutes.  

Or alternatively use a personal steam inhaler like this to help clear the nasal passage.

Natural Cough Drops

Most cough drops include menthol and menthol tends to not be best for vocal cords. So instead, for my natural cough drop, I take eight immortal fruit. In Chinese it’s known as,八仙果 (ba xian guo)

It’s a dried Chinese fruit snack made with mandarin peel and various Chinese herbs with a minty taste. In Chinese medicine, it’s used to suppress cough, indigestion, nausea and sore throat. For me, it’s an amazing natural alternative to cough drops. It’s hard to find it in North America but if you go to have Chinese Medicine herbal store you may be able to find it. 

Hope this helps to recoup and fight your cold!

Photo by: Christin Hume

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