As singers (or speakers), we must learn how to treat laryngitis.
And while there are very specific things to do (or not do) in order to recover from laryngitis, some of the process is very personal, as healing depends upon a variety of factors that are unique to each individual.
For myself, after many years of being a singer and a vocal coach, I can usually sense the early stages of what may become laryngitis, (a certain type of scratchiness in my vocal cords - a certain kind of pain in one tonsil) and I quickly stop all unnecessary singing and talking.
Sometimes, if it is absolutely required, I will sing. But often, I have discovered that it is better for me to cancel everything and just stay quiet. And of course, if the sore throat does not go away within several days, I see an ENT (ear/nose/throat) doctor as soon as possible.
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EVERYDAY VOICE CARE
Many, many people are concerned about how to treat laryngitis. I receive e-mails often about this subject. And since I am not a doctor or speech therapist, I can only give advice based on my own singing and coaching experience.
So I was really pleased to discover an info-packed podcast with the highly qualified speech therapist, Joanna Cazden recently and to learn that she had written a book on the subject of looking after one's throat: EVERYDAY VOICE CARE: The Lifestyle Guide for Singers and Talkers
Cazden´s book covers a wide range of singer/speaker-related issues: how the voice works, how voices grow and why they suffer, how foods and drinks affect the voice, what it means to "warm up the voice."
About the singer´s warm up she writes: "When it is time to warm up your voice, stop other activities and make a conscious choice to clear your mind of past or future tasks."
Cazden stresses the importance of being mentally and emotionally ready to sing. She is also very aware of the importance of living the meaning of the words - like an actor. in fact, she feels that singers should take speech classes with actors in order to better understand how to be more physically connected with the voice.
HOW TO TREAT LARYNGITIS OR HOARSENESS
The Singing-Through-A-Straw! Exercise
In her section on first aid for hoarseness, after writing in detail about ways to prevent problems, the need for deep rest for the voice and the great importance of seeing a good doctor if the problem persists beyond 2-weeks, she suggests two exercises that may help with cellular healing of the tissues.
One involves humming, and the other - which I found very interesting has to do with singing through a straw!
Here is the very well-known voice expert, Dr. Titze (also a fine singer), demonstrating how to vocalize through a straw.
In this video, he is talking about speakers who have tired voices. But if you have a sore throat or if you are hoarse, this exercise should only be done for short periods of time in the easiest part of your range - never pushing through to notes that strain you in any way. If you feel strain, do not sing!
In her book, Cazden also makes recommendations about throat lozenges and about using herbs and supplements. She stresses the importance of having a balanced life - with a good family/friend support system. She ends the book with a great number of resources - links to many valuable Web sites, books and articles about taking care of both the voice and the singer!
I highly recommend her book! Read it for an expert and well-thought through approach to keeping your voice and your self in good shape.
I wish you a healthy throat and great singing!