Don’t let the flu get the best of your voice!
Your voice is your most powerful tool for communication and with flu season upon us many people will find themselves struggling to regain their most clear and vibrant voice after battling an upper respiratory infection. These infections leave us with swelling in our vocal cords and often inflammation. This results in a voice that can sound breathy or strained. Sometimes we sound harsh and occasionally we lose our voice completely. The following are a few tips to help you care for your voice holistically.
1.Avoid caffeinated drinks!
Caffeinated drinks are often dehydrating. When your vocal cords are swollen, inflamed and tender you should opt to drink hydrating and soothing drinks. Water at any temperature is the best remedy. Some people find adding a slice of lemon and bit of honey to a warm cup of water to be soothing to their throat and vocal cords. Caffeine free teas are another nice option. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate (yes, chocolate is a source of caffeine!)
2.Avoid excessive coughing and throat clearing!
Fight the urge to cough or throat clear. When you cough or clear your throat you are slamming your vocal cords together in an aggressive manner that can result in further swelling and inflammation. When you have the urge to cough or throat clear, grab a glass of water and sip it slowly. When you swallow, be very intentional to swallow hard and clear the tickle in your throat in a gentle manner. Of course on occasion you’ll need to cough or clear your throat. Try to save those times for when it is unavoidable.
3.Use a humidifier!
Using a humidifier or running a hot shower and inhaling the steam can be another great way to bring hydration to your vocal cords. Of course you must exercise caution and not inhale steam directly, but rather indirectly so that you do not burn your throat. Additionally you can opt to add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to your shower, bath or humidifier for that added support to your respiratory system.
4.Rest your vocal cords!
The most critical and effective strategy to regaining your voice is to give it the rest it needs. Luckily in todays modern world we can use texting and email as a way to communicate if we are on strict vocal rest. Although it is challenging to go for days without speaking, try to give yourself a couple hours a day where you just sip your favorite soothing beverage and don’t talk.
If you must talk, then do not whisper! Whispering is one of the worst things anyone can do to their tender vocal cords. It is better to speak with your full voice, but at a lower intensity or volume.
Vocal inflammation and swelling is most often caused by an upper respiratory infection but it can also be caused by speaking for too long, yelling at a concert or general poor voice hygiene habits. By enlisting these tools anytime you feel your voice isn’t at its optimal you can help reduce swelling and inflammation. You will hear the improved quality and vibrancy in your voice and you will have your most powerful communication tool once again.