I have a Cold – oh no!

What to do when you have a cold! what to do with a cold

I have been a singer and a vocal coach for many years. Over that time, I have had my share of colds – some were pretty severe, but most are the “common” type:  after 6 or 7 days of nose blowing etc., it is over.

The more severe type of cold that begins with an irritated throat and develops into a very sore throat before “breaking” into the sneezing and blowing process, can take even more care than what I am going to explain here. But when students & professional singers ask me what I do for a common cold, this is my answer.

Since singing is my livelihood – I take even a simple cold quite seriously. If I cannot sing, I can’t teach or perform. So, as soon as I feel that telltale irritation in the back of my throat (usually, behind my nose), I go into “quiet mode.”  And I wait to see how the irritation progresses. We singers usually know if the cold is going to be a doozer – or just an annoyance.  No matter what, I begin like this:

• I cancel any activity that does not HAVE to be done.
• I start to gargle twice a day (AM & PM) with warm salt water
• I take 3 or 4 tablets (1000mg each) of Redoxon Vitamin C each day during the illness – in lukewarm water
• I also put several drops of wild oil of oregano (organic) under my tongue. It is very strong. But I try to gargle with those few drops
• I talk as little as possible
• I try (more than usual) to remain very calm so that my body does not have to fight stress, as well as the cold.

The stress issue is important: I have observed over many years, that if I can stay quite calm, my colds are less severe. I think that the reduction of stress is vital for an active singer. So I pause to take deep breaths several times a day to keep my body coming back to a quiet state. I also try to find a good novel to read. And when I can find some time to get away away from whatever work must continue, I take short breaks to read a bit or to lie down and simply breathe deeply.
• I eat lightly, but well: Fruit & vegetable juices and warm broths (chicken and turkey) are good.
• I drink a lot of chamomile tea.
• When the cold is coming to a close, I test out my voice with 10 or 15 minutes of exercises.  (If you sing too soon, you can prolong the cold OR bring too much heat into your vocal cords and risk getting laryngitis.)
If after those 15 minutes I am still in good voice, I (happily) leave it for the day and do a little more the next day and more the next etc…

But most important: do things that will help you avoid getting colds….
• Eat well
• Get enough sleep
• Wash your hands often and well
• Drink lots of good fluids
• Don’t over-eat
• Avoid eating late at night
• Avoid smoking, or drinking too much
• Manage your stress well


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