This is the time of year when there’s a battle going on that might wreck your voice at any moment. It’s one most of us face every winter: The battle with the common cold. And then there’s the flu that can hit especially hard.
If you’re a voiceover artist or a broadcaster, colds and the flu can stop you in your tracks. Your first thought may be to take everything in the medicine cabinet. But do your voice a favor, and don’t do that. This shotgun approach may set you up for more vocal damage than the cold.
A cold virus produces symptoms in a sequential manner. First you get a sore throat, and a day or two later you might get congestion in your nose. Treat each of these symptoms as they occur with a single symptom over-the-counter medication. Use lozenges for your throat and only add a single symptom decongestant when your head begins to be congested. Avoid those multi-action pills and liquids because they contain medications you don’t need, like a cough medicine before you’re coughing. They also don’t contain enough of any one medication to be really helpful.
And like your mom told you, drink lots of liquids. Stick with decaffeinated fluids and think of them as the best protection you can provide for your throat. Drinking liquids will keep your throat healthier and help reduce the damage coughing can cause. (Ck this previous post out to learn more about coughing and your throat.)
Stay away from antihistamines unless a doctor has prescribed them for allergies. They have a drying effect on your vocal tract and do more harm than good. Remember, too, that colds and the flu are caused by viruses, and antibiotics only help with bacterial infections.
There is an antiviral that can shorter and soften the effects of the flu, but it must be taken at the onset of symptoms. Let your doctor make the diagnosis if you have a temperature over 100 degrees with aches and lethargy that make it hard to work.
And if you’re not sick yet, the bottom line on the best weapon in the battle with the common cold and the flu is a simple one:
WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN!
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