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Does your Voice Feel Like Something the Cat Dragged In? Try these 12 tips

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

March 26, 2008

Comments (21)

Feeling gross, yucky, icky or have no voice at all?

There's something going around again and an email request prompted me to write some tips for soothing a sore throat.

Try these 12 tips at home -- they work!

Cat with Mouse


1. Do not talk

Really, don't talk. It sounds impossible but if you have the support of those around you and they are open to reading notes you jot down or playing charades, you can do it.


2. Do not talk on the phone

The phone is one of those wonderful technologies that can literally rip the voice right out of you. If you are feeling sick or even if you are not, it's a good idea to spend minimal time on the telephone as people often speak in more exaggerated tones and volume levels to compensate for the fact that you cannot express yourself visually.


3. Do not irritate your voice by yelling, crying, screaming or nagging

This may be an easy one for you if you lead a relatively tranquil existence or if you live alone. However, if you have kids, clam up and don't use your voice if you're mad and want to yell. Find another positive way to express what you are feeling -- don't take it out on your own voice -- that's counterproductive!


4. If you are coughing don't force it or you may lose your voice

Laryngitis!

Enough said. I had this awful affliction late last week and couldn't speak for a few days. It's nasty, it's inconvenient and it is nearly the worst thing that can happen to you if you depend upon your voice to make a living. As one of my chums related, Laryngitis is the kiss of death for voice actors, and I can see why it's true! I hope you don't get it -- follow the tips on this list and you'll have some ideas on how to stave it off.


5. Drink plenty of fluids

Keep the juice, water and milk coming! Your body is made up a hefty percentage of water and you need to maintain those fluids in order to get better and keep your vocal folds moist. Milk doesn't just build strong bones and teeth, it has hidden benefits such as adding another thin layer of coating to ease the pain. While you're at it, you might want to eat some yogurt or pudding ;) Consider Ginger Ale as another remedy in your arsenal.


6. Stay Hydrated

This may sound the same as the previous suggestion but it's not exactly the same. Earlier I encouraged you to drink plenty of fluids, but plenty is a relative term ;) Being hydrated means that you are constantly replacing fluids that are leaving you throughout the day. Don't just drink with each meal, drink in between meals and whenever you feel you need it.

A good rule might be to have a glass of something moisturizing once an hour when your throat feels like this. Your illness has a way of stripping the moisture away faster than would normally happen if you were well. Drinking more will also prevent headaches and migraines.


7. Have a cup of something warm that is non-drying

Do you like drinking tea? If you do, it's a great time to get your herbal teas out of the cupboard and find the one that is most suited to driving away infection and soreness. Lemon, chamomile, and ginger are three great choices. Honey is a nice sweetener that won't create more fuss.


8. Don't eat anything scratchy, gritty or spicy

It goes without saying but if you're eating something gritty, coarse or spicy, your throat is not going to thank you. Stay away from foods that mettle with your efforts to get back on the path to good health.


9. Boil some water and breathe in the steam

Give yourself the spa treatment and inhale some beautifully condensed H20! If you have a water mister or humidifier turn that baby on full tilt and take it all in.


10. Get plenty of rest

Resting doesn't necessarily mean lights out but it does mean refraining from activities you don't need to participate in until you get well. Take some time to be quiet, sit still and see what happens.


11. Keep warm

Keeping your neck area warm is a good idea. If you have a heating bag, scarf or sweater, put it on. A massage wouldn't hurt either, would it? Gently massage your neck and pamper it a bit by allowing your voice do do absolutely nothing.


12. Sleep

Snuggle up, get toasty warm and call it a night early to get those optimum hours of rest before midnight. If you go to bed for 9 p.m. or even 10 p.m. you'll feel the difference.


Bonus #1: If you need to clear your throat, do not cough, simply swallow. This is a good habit to develop when you are healthy too, especially if you are in a recording session and either can't cough or prefer not to.

Bonus #2: STAY OFF THE PHONE! It's one of the best things you can do for your voice. The less you talk, the more time your voice has to heal and help your body to combat whatever it is that is making you sick.


Do you have a tip you would like to share?

Leave a comment!

Best wishes,

Stephanie


©©©iStockphoto.com/Przemyslaw Rzeszutko

Related Topics: how to, laryngitis, sick, sore throat, throat, vocal health, voice acting


Comments


    Hello, Stephanie, and thanks for those terrific "chase-away-the-cold" remedies.

    A couple of months ago I had a cold that I couldn't seem to shake--like the IN BED for 3 days kind of cold. But once I dared to get up and open the drapes, I immediately went out to play tennis! That's right, a vigorous, 3-set match that lasted 2 hours. Now, I'm an avid tennis player anyway, but I have to say, exercise is great for a cold. It not only gets your mind off your illness, but it kind of "shakes everything up" and clears your head--and you'll sleep wonderfully! And ever since one of your blogs suggested eating an apple before each session, I have one every day and haven't been sick since--wow, it DOES work!

    Thanks again!

    Robin

    Posted by:
    • Robin Rowan
    • March 27, 2008 10:34 AM

      Thanks Robin :)

      Exercise is definitely a great way to shake things up a bit and restore your energy reserves and renew a zest for life! Also, it's nice to hear that the apples are working ;)

      At Digg.com, we got a comment from allaboutdatiki that bore a helpful suggestion. The suggestion was to gargle with salt water.

      Keep the ideas coming!

      Cheers,

      Stephanie

      Posted by:

        Even when I'm not sick or coming down with something, I've realized I have to avoid attending loud parties. You know the kind, when there's more than say, twelve people, and music playing in the background. Why? Because I can't talk without straining my voice, and if I can't talk, why go to a party? I don't welcome this development, I've simply realized those situations negatively affect my voice. I hate to sound like a diva to my host or hostess, so I if I attend, I will usually just leave after an hour.

        Does anyone else come home from a loud party and feel the strain in their throat?

        Vicki Amorose

        Posted by:

          Stephanie,

          I am a long time allergy sufferer (mine include pollen, trees, and dust- yuck!). It's so important to always sound your best, so I get two allergy shots a week right now (it will move to once a week after spring). If I feel anything that even hints of congestion, I use my neti pot to clear my sinuses. I also take some time to exercise like Robin. For me, it's Pilates. There is something to the theory that shaking things up really does clear your head!

          Kara

          Posted by:

            For a sick nose and throat, we swear by the Neti pot. It is mentioned in many VO books. We use it everyday when we shower.

            Here's great video...not mine:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzK9Gn4E_Eg

            David Rodwell
            Silver Tongued Angels

            Posted by:

              Drink plenty of water...don't yell,
              If somebody sneezes, run like hell.

              -anon

              Fred Keeler

              Posted by:

                I attended a workshop by professional storyteller Leeny Del Seamonds and she recommends Throat Coat herbal tea by Traditional Medicinals. It contains slippery elm bark, and is quite soothing.

                Posted by:
                • Alan Beckley
                • March 28, 2008 5:33 PM

                  Thank you so much. I kept browsing the internet for something accurate to help get my voice back--- sore throat for about four days now. It's hard to keep silent when the teacher keeps calling on me, but I gave her a note. ^_^ Thanks!

                  Posted by:

                    I find that making a tea, adding liquid lemon, and liquid honey really helps the throat and if you have laryngitis refrain from mint, menthol, as those dry the throat. Instead go for a cough drop with fruit flavour, or honey lemon. My favourite was Ricola lemon and honey cough drops. They have a good taste and make you feel much better! Steam from boiling water helps. Also humidifiers do a wonderful job. P.S with laryngitis it is worse to whisper as it's like yelling for the vocals.

                    Posted by:
                    • krystal williamson
                    • December 22, 2008 11:34 AM

                      When I worked in radio doing news, we (over)used spray Chloraseptic as Choice #1. Regular black tea worked well. Nothing gloppy or sticky, like candy or chocolate. One exception, those old cherry Smith Bros. cough drops. In recent, years I've found Fisherman's Friend which beats everything else I've used.
                      The 12 tips are great, but mine were good for immediate, although not always lasting, results :)

                      Posted by:
                      • Tom Hosmanek
                      • May 30, 2011 7:48 PM

                        BIG TIME THANKS!!!! If it's one thing I HATE (AND, when I get it, it's TERRIBLE!!!), it's a sore throat!

                        Posted by:
                        • Nick Byrne
                        • May 30, 2011 8:36 PM

                          Vocal rest and ginger tea!!! :) Gargle with salt water before bed too.

                          Posted by:
                          • Maria Fernandez
                          • May 30, 2011 8:37 PM

                            If it isn't due to a cold, and it's from using my voice singing, perhaps a coarse sea salt gargle. Someone once recommended some olive oil, but I can barely get that down so that doesn't work for me. Additionally, I stop talking. I also use magnet products (nikken magnets) to soothe and heal the neck and throat muscles. I might take an anti-inflammatory if it really hurts while not talking.

                            Posted by:
                            • Alicia Russo
                            • May 30, 2011 8:38 PM

                              I agree with Maria Fernandez. Vocal rest.

                              Posted by:
                              • Steven Mark Thomas
                              • May 31, 2011 10:01 AM

                                Honey and lemon mixed.

                                Posted by:
                                • GuilMar DigiMar
                                • May 31, 2011 10:03 AM

                                  I rest my voice drink hot tea with lemon, honey. If all else,if that does not work I see the dr!!!!

                                  Posted by:
                                  • Annie Ashleigh Banks
                                  • May 31, 2011 10:04 AM

                                    ‎!!!! THROAT MIXER & TEA !!!!

                                    Posted by:
                                    • Troy Djweedum Miller
                                    • May 31, 2011 10:05 AM

                                      Rest, honey+lemon, sipping warm water, and "Thayer's Slippery Elm Lozenges." Recently, I've discovered that Vitamin C lozenges, cut the "gunk" on the voice and prevent tired voice while keeping it feeling good. But then again I haven't had a true sore throat for almost 2 years.

                                      Posted by:
                                      • Dan Harder
                                      • May 31, 2011 10:05 AM

                                        If you have a Chinese store nearby... Pei Pa Koa is used for both theater and singing... does wonders...

                                        Posted by:
                                        • Rye Amansec
                                        • May 31, 2011 10:06 AM

                                          Rest! Remember you work for yourself as a voice over artist so take the time Rest and then go back to work and give the client the best you can.

                                          Posted by:
                                          • Nick Montague
                                          • May 31, 2011 10:09 AM

                                            Great info! I am almost over the sinus infection that I had. I find warm water with lemon, honey helps. And I drank loads of ginger ale.I hardly ever drink fizzy pop unless I am sick. Of course being a brit a good cuppa is always good.

                                            Posted by:
                                            • Christine Stevens
                                            • April 2, 2013 10:18 AM

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