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Speech 101
 
Yikes! I’ve Lost My Voice!
| Monday, 07.09.2018, 10:00 AM |   (40216 views)


Yikes!  I’ve Lost My Voice!


By Ginny Kopf


 


               The big audition or taping is today and you have a sore throat.  What can you do?  Maybe you suspect it’s the beginning of a cold or flu.  Or possibly reflux.  But you have to consider that maybe it’s from overuse or abuse (you pushed it too hard the day before, screaming, tensing up your throat, shoulders, or jaw, not using good breath control, talking all day, being stressed out).  In that case, you need rest, plain and simple.  And you need to prevent it from happening again by figuring out what you are doing to contribute to the sore throat, in terms of improper use and technique.    


            Self-diagnosis isn’t easy—especially because your sore throat might be the result of a combination of overuse, misuse, a cold coming on, or allergies.  But let me offer some practical tips that just might help you minimize some of those nasty symptoms.  All of these are natural remedies, no drugs at all.


            1.  If your throat feels thick with mucus, put some lemon in your water sipper to cut the phlegm.  But if your throat feels dry, don't use lemon or drink grapefruit juice, as it robs your throat of the mucus it needs to function--instead drink lots of water and suck on lozenges. 


            2.  The best lozenges are natural ones like "Riccola" cough drops and vitamin C drops, without drying antihistamines, mentholyptus, or a lot of sugar.  The second you feel a little something wrong in your throat, take Zinc lozenges (Cherry flavored "Cold-Eeze").  They are proven to cut the length and severity of a cold by 45%.  These have kept a cold at bay for me for years.  Do not use numbing chloraseptic sprays.


            3.  Some people swear by “Airborne” but it doesn’t have much in it to help you once you ARE sick.  Airborne is great for building up your immunity if you are going into public places, like airplanes or schools.   I’ve discovered “Germ MD” which is a combination of Vitamin C, Zinc, and other natural extracts for supporting a healthy immune system.  Germ MD is just one of several similar products.  Just look for these kinds of natural supplements at your health food store, or some grocery stores.      


            4.  Warm tea is fine.  "Throat Coat" is a recommended herbal tea.  It has “Slippery Elm” which soothes.


            5.  A cough may be from a cold or flu, but often it is an allergy or reflux, so get it checked out.   If your problem is viral, unfortunately nothing is going to help but time, although natural remedies can certainly help ease the symptoms.   


            6.  Wrap your neck so it stays warm.  Baby your throat at night by sleeping with a scarf or sock tied around your neck.  The warmth will aid in healing by comforting you and relaxing your neck muscles.         


            7.  Keep your hands away from your mouth and wash your hands a lot, to avoid picking up and spreading cold germs!


            8.  Breathe in the steam of a hot shower.  Aim the spray at your forehead to massage your sinuses.


            9.  Clear your sinuses by humming, humming, humming for at least 3 minutes.  Do easy neck rolls and spine roll-downs, and physical massages and presses along the sinus points.  Direct the hums right into the nose.  Vocalize "sirens" on an "EEEEEE" which is the most resonant, vibrating vowel.  Light humming also helps sore throats--do a siren around the pitches that seem to vibrate where your throat hurts the most.


            10.  You can clear your sinuses by using “Ocean” or other similar nose sprays, which are simply saline. There is an old yoga cleansing where you tilt your head to the side and back and pour warm water with just a bit of salt into one nostril, then shift your head to the other side and let the water run out the other nostril.  You can use an ear-cleansing bulb or just a paper cup.  It takes some getting used to but people swear by it.  Nasal sprays with drugs in them should be monitored by a doctor, and they can be habit-forming!  And often, they’ll clear your sinuses, but at the expense of messing up the back of your throat.             


            11.  Best tip yet--a warm salt water gargle is nature's healer.  You can do it many times a day without harm.  When ENTs are asked what products to buy for the throat, they all recommend water and rest are best.


 


Now, how about allergies, or suspected allergies??


            1.  Keep breakroom and home environment free of dust and allergens.  Vacuum and dust a lot, especially in your bedroom (including the ceiling fan), and wash your bedding often.  Dust mites are a common allergen.  Buy those special sheets that keep dust mites from living in your bed and pillows.  Get a wet-vac, or a micro-filter system vacuum cleaner.  Wash and brush your pets weekly if you're allergic to fur or dander. 


            2.  Very helpful:  get an air purifier or a cool-air humidifier for your bedroom and workspace.  Humidifiers aren't expensive at a Walgreens or such store, but be sure to clean it out every night.   Air purifiers are a little costly and you change the (expensive) filter every 9 months, but they make a gigantic difference.


            3.  Allergies are rampant in Florida, even for those who never had them before, so if your throat problems are not going away, it's highly suspect it is an allergy.   Natural methods may not be strong enough.  Please go see an allergist before it gets worse.  An allergist can give you lots of tips on how to control allergic reactions at home and at work.


            4.  Avoid walking at dawn and dusk, which is when airborne allergens are most “active.” 


            5.  "Reflux" (burping up stomach acids, which irritates the throat) is a common problem, usually accompanied by heartburn.  See a doctor if you suspect reflux.  The doctor will recommend medications, avoiding acidic food at night, caffeine drinks, and elevating the head of your bed with a wedge.  But be aware that reflux is sort of the catch-all diagnosis by many doctors today.  Your problem may be allergies or a virus instead.  


 


            Take note--here’s when to seek professional help:


                        a. If you think you've strained your voice and it does not recover after a                                                 day or two of   resting it.


                        b. If your sore throat keeps recurring.


                        c. If you wake up with a sore throat every morning.


                        d. If your voice is consistently raspy or hoarse and does not seem to be getting stronger after 5-10 days.  It's important to note that a raspiness in your natural speaking voice (not in your loud performing voice) can signal a problem.  Note: your throat needn't be sore to signal a problem.


 


Above all, don't ignore a throat problem.  Get help from a doctor AND a qualified vocal therapist or trainer.  Do everything you can to build up your immune system.  And take precious care of your instrument every day.


 


 


Ginny Kopf has an MFA in Theatre Voice and a 2nd Master’s Degree focusing on “Vocal Health.”  She has privately coached thousands of performers and professional voice-users on how to maintain a strong, healthy voice that will project without strain.  Contact her at:  www.voiceandspeechtraining.com   


 


 


 


 


Yikes!  I’ve Lost My Voice!

By Ginny Kopf

 

The big audition or taping is today and you have a sore throat.  What can you do?  Maybe you suspect it’s the beginning of a cold or flu.  Or possibly reflux.  But you have to consider that maybe it’s from overuse or abuse (you pushed it too hard the day before, screaming, tensing up your throat, shoulders, or jaw, not using good breath control, talking all day, being stressed out).  In that case, you need rest, plain and simple.  And you need to prevent it from happening again by figuring out what you are doing to contribute to the sore throat, in terms of improper use and technique.    

            Self-diagnosis isn’t easy—especially because your sore throat might be the result of a combination of overuse, misuse, a cold coming on, or allergies.  But let me offer some practical tips that just might help you minimize some of those nasty symptoms.  All of these are natural remedies, no drugs at all.

            1.  If your throat feels thick with mucus, put some lemon in your water sipper to cut the phlegm.  But if your throat feels dry, don't use lemon or drink grapefruit juice, as it robs your throat of the mucus it needs to function--instead drink lots of water and suck on lozenges. 

            2.  The best lozenges are natural ones like "Riccola" cough drops and vitamin C drops, without drying antihistamines, mentholyptus, or a lot of sugar.  The second you feel a little something wrong in your throat, take Zinc lozenges (Cherry flavored "Cold-Eeze").  They are proven to cut the length and severity of a cold by 45%.  These have kept a cold at bay for me for years.  Do not use numbing chloraseptic sprays.

            3.  Some people swear by “Airborne” but it doesn’t have much in it to help you once you ARE sick.  Airborne is great for building up your immunity if you are going into public places, like airplanes or schools.   I’ve discovered “Germ MD” which is a combination of Vitamin C, Zinc, and other natural extracts for supporting a healthy immune system.  Germ MD is just one of several similar products.  Just look for these kinds of natural supplements at your health food store, or some grocery stores.      

            4.  Warm tea is fine.  "Throat Coat" is a recommended herbal tea.  It has “Slippery Elm” which soothes.

            5.  A cough may be from a cold or flu, but often it is an allergy or reflux, so get it checked out.   If your problem is viral, unfortunately nothing is going to help but time, although natural remedies can certainly help ease the symptoms.   

            6.  Wrap your neck so it stays warm.  Baby your throat at night by sleeping with a scarf or sock tied around your neck.  The warmth will aid in healing by comforting you and relaxing your neck muscles.         

            7.  Keep your hands away from your mouth and wash your hands a lot, to avoid picking up and spreading cold germs!

            8.  Breathe in the steam of a hot shower.  Aim the spray at your forehead to massage your sinuses.

            9.  Clear your sinuses by humming, humming, humming for at least 3 minutes.  Do easy neck rolls and spine roll-downs, and physical massages and presses along the sinus points.  Direct the hums right into the nose.  Vocalize "sirens" on an "EEEEEE" which is the most resonant, vibrating vowel.  Light humming also helps sore throats--do a siren around the pitches that seem to vibrate where your throat hurts the most.

            10.  You can clear your sinuses by using “Ocean” or other similar nose sprays, which are simply saline. There is an old yoga cleansing where you tilt your head to the side and back and pour warm water with just a bit of salt into one nostril, then shift your head to the other side and let the water run out the other nostril.  You can use an ear-cleansing bulb or just a paper cup.  It takes some getting used to but people swear by it.  Nasal sprays with drugs in them should be monitored by a doctor, and they can be habit-forming!  And often, they’ll clear your sinuses, but at the expense of messing up the back of your throat.             

            11.  Best tip yet--a warm salt water gargle is nature's healer.  You can do it many times a day without harm.  When ENTs are asked what products to buy for the throat, they all recommend water and rest are best.

 

Now, how about allergies, or suspected allergies??

            1.  Keep breakroom and home environment free of dust and allergens.  Vacuum and dust a lot, especially in your bedroom (including the ceiling fan), and wash your bedding often.  Dust mites are a common allergen.  Buy those special sheets that keep dust mites from living in your bed and pillows.  Get a wet-vac, or a micro-filter system vacuum cleaner.  Wash and brush your pets weekly if you're allergic to fur or dander. 

            2.  Very helpful:  get an air purifier or a cool-air humidifier for your bedroom and workspace.  Humidifiers aren't expensive at a Walgreens or such store, but be sure to clean it out every night.   Air purifiers are a little costly and you change the (expensive) filter every 9 months, but they make a gigantic difference.

            3.  Allergies are rampant in Florida, even for those who never had them before, so if your throat problems are not going away, it's highly suspect it is an allergy.   Natural methods may not be strong enough.  Please go see an allergist before it gets worse.  An allergist can give you lots of tips on how to control allergic reactions at home and at work.

            4.  Avoid walking at dawn and dusk, which is when airborne allergens are most “active.” 

            5.  "Reflux" (burping up stomach acids, which irritates the throat) is a common problem, usually accompanied by heartburn.  See a doctor if you suspect reflux.  The doctor will recommend medications, avoiding acidic food at night, caffeine drinks, and elevating the head of your bed with a wedge.  But be aware that reflux is sort of the catch-all diagnosis by many doctors today.  Your problem may be allergies or a virus instead.  

 

            Take note--here’s when to seek professional help:

                        a. If you think you've strained your voice and it does not recover after a                                                 day or two of   resting it.

                        b. If your sore throat keeps recurring.

                        c. If you wake up with a sore throat every morning.

                        d. If your voice is consistently raspy or hoarse and does not seem to be getting stronger after 5-10 days.  It's important to note that a raspiness in your natural speaking voice (not in your loud performing voice) can signal a problem.  Note: your throat needn't be sore to signal a problem.

 

Above all, don't ignore a throat problem.  Get help from a doctor AND a qualified vocal therapist or trainer.  Do everything you can to build up your immune system.  And take precious care of your instrument every day.

 

 

Ginny Kopf has an MFA in Theatre Voice and a 2nd Master’s Degree focusing on “Vocal Health.”  She has privately coached thousands of performers and professional voice-users on how to maintain a strong, healthy voice that will project without strain.  Contact her at:  www.voiceandspeechtraining.com   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 


 



Ginny Knopf


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