Welcome to winter! Are you ready to embrace the frosty mornings and nippy nights? If you’re like me, winter this year has caught me off guard. Surely it was only a few weeks ago that I was tidying up the pool toys! I’ve already had a nasty cold and winter has barely begun. When you’re under the weather, it’s hard to know whether to rest-up or soldier on. We’re encouraged by over-the-counter medications to ‘pop a pill’ and just keep going. Is this really the best advice? Following are a few tips on how to take care of your voice when the dreaded lurgy strikes:
1. Drink plenty of water. When you think you’ve had enough, have a little bit more. Our bodies require hydration, and water intake is essential when caring for our voice. If you opt to take cold and flu tablets, additional hydration is important as the active ingredients are often working to dehydrate you. If the tablets are designed to dry up mucous, then they are also drying out your vocal cords.
2. When you feel your voice is weak and you are beginning to lose it, REST!, stop talking, and never strain your voice. Save it for the really important conversations. When you push through, your vocal cords can swell which leads to laryngitis.
3. Don’t whisper. You may think that whispering is the answer when your voice is fading; It’s not. Whispering causes more strain on the muscles of your vocal tract and can lead to other significant problems.
4. Breathe through your nose. This is often tricky when you have a cold. Use some essential oils or a facial steam bath to clear your nose. Keeping your mouth closed when you breathe reduces the number of airborne irritants that your vocal cords are exposed to, and ultimately protects your voice.
5. Stay warm. Wear a scarf. On those chilly mornings or cold evenings, a scarf is just the ticket to keep your neck muscles and vocal tract cosy. It minimises the effect of rapid changes in temperature such as going from a warm room to the cold wind.
6. Sip warm fluids. Who doesn’t like a nice comforting hot drink when the weather turns cold? If your drink of choice is caffeinated, remember to have an additional glass of water. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means it encourages your body to get rid of extra fluid so the additional glass of water will help protect your vocal cords from dehydration. Why not try a herbal tea or honey and lemon drink? The added Vitamin C from the lemon will help support your immune system, while the honey can soothe your sore throat.
7. Socialise safely. Avoid loud environments with lots of background noise. Remember you want to rest your voice and not use it to compete with a hundred conversations or a loud band.
8. Be aware of your alcohol intake. Alcohol acts to dehydrate you, so again make sure you drink plenty of water when drinking to keep those vocal cords hydrated.
If you have concerns about your voice, our Speech Pathologists would love to have a chat with you. Contact us to discuss how Newcastle Speech Pathology can support your voice care.
Written by Alison Speech Pathologist Newcastle Speech Pathology