One of the most annoying things that can happen to you as a singer is to get sick just before a performance.
You’ve been preparing for this and you don’t want to let anybody down, but what should you do?
Unfortunately, no matter how well you try to manage your vocal health and prevent getting a cold, sometimes it’s just unavoidable. How you handle being sick is the important thing - even if that means cancelling a performance in the interest of doing what’s right for your voice.
In this blog post, I unpack the 5 things singers should do when they get sick to help restore their voice as quickly and safely as possible so they can keep singing.
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
How to relieve hay fever symptoms and keep singing
And of course, grab a copy of my ultimate vocal health starter guide where I'll share how to create a vocal health routine and reset your voice in 14-days!
1 | STOP SINGING
According to American Larynologist, Dr Robert Sataloff, author of 50 Ways to Abuse your Voice there are some exceptions to the rule of singing when sick. But unless you have access to and the funds to keep a Larynologist on hand, the safest course of action is to STOP SINGING when you’re sick.
You should stop singing as soon as, and whilst you have cold/flu symptoms, such as a sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, and/or cough etc.
The reason singers stop singing when they get sick is because the virus sits on your larynx and the vocal cords become inflamed and swollen. You’ll notice that your vocal quality becomes compromised, and if you continue to sing you increase the risk of vocal cord injury.
No performance is worth the potential long term damage to your voice or career. I talk a little more about how to properly rest your voice in my free download A Singer’s Guide to Vocal Reset.
>> Related<< Ultimate Guide to Vocal Health
2 | STAY HYDRATED
I feel like a broken record, but I’m going to keep saying it: staying hydrated is the single best thing you can do for your voice, even when you’re sick.
Drinking plenty of water will help stop your vocal cords from drying out, help reduce swelling, and minimise mucus build-up, so you are less likely to keep clearing your throat - which can become a damaging habit!
Staying hydrated when you’re sick still means drinking 8 glasses of water per day and you can find out more about how to stay hydrated in a recent article I wrote.
3 | AVOID MEDICATIONS
Wherever possible avoid taking medications. Some over the counter cold and flu medications can have a negative effect on your voice including cough syrups and cough sweets, which block mucosal secretion leaving your voice and throat feeling dry.
And aspirin and products containing aspirin are blood thinners and should always be avoided at all times, as they increase the likelihood of vocal haemorrhage.
Overusing medication when you're sick may delay your recovery.
>>Related<< How to Relieve Hay fever Symptoms
4 | GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleeping when you’re sick helps your body increase the release of proteins, like Cytokines, which help fight infections and inflammation and reduces your recovery time.
And studies have also shown that people who have poor sleep habits are more likely to get sick than those with good sleep habits.
Most adults need approximately 8 hours of sleep per night. Having a good sleep routine all year round is essential for singers as sleeping well, reduces your likelihood of getting sick, and helps you lose less practice time and increase your commitment to performance schedules.
>>Related<< 9 Routines Every Singer Should Have
>>Related<< How to Sleep Better
5 | REST
As well as getting enough sleep, it’s important that you're getting enough rest during waking hours too.
It’s not easy if you have a job and family and a growing mountain of chores but you’ll reduce your recovery time if you don’t take proper care of yourself. Like getting enough sleep, resting will also help to reduce further bouts of sickness in the near future.
If that means grabbing a brew and a blanket and binge watching Netflicks for the next couple of days - so be it! The housework will be there tomorrow, unfortunately, but right now you need to prioritise your health.
As frustrating as it might be, we all get sick from time to time.
If you follow these 5 tips you’ll recover from sickness faster and you'll less likely to cause any serious vocal injury.
If you wanna know more about how to reset your voice during and after illness, or even after an intense performance schedule, download my free guide Singer’s Guide to Vocal Reset and recover your voice in 14-days.