Sometimes it seems like no matter how hard you work to avoid it you somehow seem to catch whatever sickness is going around. This would not be such a big problem if you had a normal career or were even an instrumentalist. However, you are a singer and your body is your instrument so whatever your body is experiencing you voice is experiencing too. Singers have to be extremely careful when they get sick. You have to get well fast enough not to lose work but you also need to know when not to sing. Here are a few tips that can help you through your next sickness and hopefully keep you singing as much as possible.
1. Drink lots of Water. Water is obviously good for your voice already in that it keeps it moist and in its best working condition. Water can also be very helpful for a cold in that it can actually help to get the virus out of your system much fast.
2. Get lots of Sleep. Get as much sleep as you can because your body heals faster when you are getting the proper amount of sleep.
3. Vitamins. Everyone has their usual routine of how they deal with a cold. For everyone that includes some kind of vitamin or drug to shorten the severity and duration of their sickness. Try zinc, Echinacea, vitamin C, Zicam, goldenseal, airborn, and many others.
4. Breathe Steam. A lot of singers swear by this one although I have never tried it myself. When you first notice symptoms of a cold get to a steam room. If that is not available heat water till it comes to a boil. Shut off the flame, lean over the pot, drape a towel over your head and breathe. The steam helps to restore the natural environment in your mouth, nose, and throat and can open up your sinus passages. Some people claim you can get rid of your cold altogether by eliminating enough of the mucus.
5. Avoid antihistamines. As a singer you want to get rid of you cold and congestion fast so many people to turn to antihistamines because they help with a lot of your symptoms. However if you want to sound your best do not take antihistamines as they dry out your throat and make phonation difficult. It is better to be congested then risk singing on a dry throat.
6. Don’t sing if it hurts. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your career is to make the tough choice not to sing. You may have to give up a few jobs to get over your cold but this may be best as singing through when you voice hurts can do a lot of damage. You may miss more jobs trying to heal from the damage you did by singing when you were sick then if you had just taken a few days off to heal in the first place.
7. Avoid lozenges that have a numbing effect. Some cough drops have ingredients that help to relieve sore throat pain by numbing the area. You can do a lot of damage to your voice if you take these as you can not feel the damage you are causing yourself so you oversing. Feel free to take these if you will not be using your voice for a while but do not take them if you have a performance and are trying to mask the pain. Its not worth it.
8. Use a cough suppressant. Coughing is very hard on your voice and if at all possible should be avoided. Try using an expectorant to work through the cough faster or a suppressant to stop the coughing.