Tag Archives: sore throat

How do I sing when I have laryngitis, a sore throat or am sick?

sore-throat-relief

Laryngitis is a general term used by most of us to describe when we “lose” our voices. Usually it’s inflammation or irritation of the vocal folds (vocal cords), although it can also be extreme dryness or the vocal folds, acid reflux, or stiffness of the muscles in and around the vocal folds themselves.

Laryngitis can be caused by many things, one of which is trauma (screaming, yelling, excessive or loud talking, intense coughing due to sickness, over singing, etc). For singers, over singing (singing too high, too long, too loud, etc) is a particular problem.

Laryngitis is a general term used by most of us to describe when we “lose” our voices. Usually it’s inflammation or irritation of the vocal folds (vocal cords), although it can also be extreme dryness or the vocal folds, acid reflux, or stiffness of the muscles in and around the vocal folds themselves.

If caused by trauma, and you can almost pinpoint moment you hurt your voice, stop singing or talking altogether, if possible, for at least 24hrs. If there is next to zero voice there, see an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. This could be very serious, and continuing to sing or speak on it can cause permanent damage.

If caused by extreme inflammation where it is very painful to speak or swallow, again, take off a day or two and give your voice a chance to get a bit healthier before singing again.

Now, most of the time, we just have stiffness, dryness or irritation of the chords due to overuse, allergies, acid reflux or sickness. When this is the case, we can still sing. We just have to warm up slowly, lowly and spread out. In other words, sing quietly and only singing as high as is completely comfortable, and for short periods of time. (By the way, acid reflux is very serious and needs to be dealt with ASAP, if that’s the problem).

We may only be able to sing a few notes of range, at best, to start. Just sing quietly (no more than a normal spoken level) for a minute or two at most, then give yourself a break for 10-15 minutes or more, and then try again. After awhile, your voice will start to loosen up, although it won’t necessarily return to 100% that day. If you’re patient, you might be surprised at how much of your voice can come back on that same day.

Congestion can be a problem, both nasal and chest congestion. For nasal congestion, try a saline nasal rinse or spray. The saline rinses and sprays will use the same salt content as your own tears. It helps relieve nasal congestion and allow swollen tissue to recede a bit. For chest congestion, a simple over the counter expectorant like Mucinex taken with plenty of water should help. Also, warming up in the shower (slightly steamy) will help with nasal and chest congestion.

A huge help will also be lubrication. Use a throat spray that is aloe vera based. I recommend Entertainer’s Secret. Entertainer’s Secret saved my voice when I discovered that I had acid reflux problems. It is a spritz inhaled across the vocal folds themselves. That’s the only way to directly lubricate the area.

There is a “door” called the epiglottis that shuts off the vocal folds area when we swallow. It keeps us from choking on food or liquid when we swallow, so if we just use a spray for the upper throat to help our voices, it never touches the vocal chords. It would be like pouring oil on the outside of the engine, rather than into the engine. Used liberally, a product like Entertainer’s Secret can help tremendously.

By the way, don’t use a spray that numbs the area if you’re going to be talking or singing. You want to be able to feel if you are hurting yourself. For instance, you wouldn’t use a numbing shot on a sprained ankle so that you can walk around. You’d be further injuring the area, even though you wouldn’t be feeling the pain.

Of course, getting sick is going to be inevitable, but here’s a list of simple things to avoid getting sick:

1. Wash your hands constantly. Kill the germs!
2. Get plenty of sleep.
3. If possible, don’t hang out with sick people or share things like cups, pencils, etc. Basically, don’t touch anything they touch.

Hope this helps!

Happy Singing!!

Eric Bruner
BecomeAVoiceTeacher.com
SingWithPower.com

 



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