Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tip of the Month: Combat Congestion!

Tis the season; the season for sickness, that is! As we all know, congestion is practically doomsday for voiceover artists. Being that I recently got over a pretty bad cold myself, I decided to write an article on a few methods to combat congestion to help you record on the tougher days. We would love to hear your miracle-cures as well, so feel free to leave us a comment!

Hot shower: A hot shower is a great way to loosen congestion. Bonus points if you use a minty soap to try to help ease congestion as well. Unfortunately, staying in a hot shower for too long can also be drying to your skin, so my hint would be to take a shower and then turn up the water heat and step out of the shower to enjoy the steam. Turn off any vents or fans and let the bathroom really fill up with steam and enjoy it for a few minutes.

Herbal tea with honey and lemon: Many people would recommend drinking an herbal tea, typically with spearmint or chamomile. Personally, this works wonders for me. Many voiceover artists swear by 'Throat Coat' tea, which I use in dire situations but really can't stand the taste of. Lesser known is to drink ginger tea. Ginger is a natural antihistamine, so it will help any inflammation you are suffering from due to congestion. The less inflamed things are, the less congested you'll feel. Try to avoid any tea that contains caffeine (even green tea contains caffeine), stick with herbal.

OTC decongestant: For the most part, I try to avoid taking medicine unless absolutely necessary. Sometimes you just have to so you can function in your daily schedule. Make sure that if you're planning on working, to choose a non-drowsy formula!

Avoid dairy: As many of you know, dairy products can cause your body to produce more mucous than it normally does. In fact, we recommend that our students stay away from dairy products 24-48 hours before recording their demo to cut down on mouth noise produced when dairy is consumed. When you're congested, your body is already producing PLENTY of mucous, so avoiding dairy will help keep your body from producing even more! As an alternative, try soy or almond milk.

Indulge in a spicy, brothy soup: The combination of the steam and the spices really helps open up the sinuses and ease chest congestion. Bonus points on this one if you lean in close to your bowl of soup and breathe deeply to get the full steam-effect!

Metholatum Ointment: Depending on where your congestion is, this can work wonders either below your nostrils or on your chest. It's a temporary relief, but it's a great addition to your congestion combatants.

Gargling with warm water & salt: The salt helps dry out post-nasal drip and the warm water eases a sore throat.

Use a humidifier: Many people complain that bedtime is the worst time when they're suffering from congestion. Most times this is because when we lay down and can't breathe through our nose, we sleep with our mouth open which dries out our throat and causes us to cough. Having a humidifier in your bedroom for when you are ill will help a bit to keep your throat a little more moist.

Keep hydrated: Not only is keeping hydrated good in general for voiceover artists, it's particularly important when you're suffering from congestion. Making sure you have plenty of liquids will help thin out mucous, which will make it easier to pass any mucous you have lingering.

Neti-pot: I'm sure may of you have heard of this contraption already. Personally, I can admit I was a little freaked out by the concept. You get this little teapot-looking thing, add in a solution (provided by the makers of the neti-pot) that contains 2 ingredients, mix with warm water and pour it into one nostril, which it then goes up into the sinuses and out the other nostril. Sounds weird, right?! I thought so, too! After numerous friends of mine gave me rave-reviews of their dealings with this thing, I decided to give it a shot. I have to admit, the thing worked! It takes a bit to get the angle right and you feel really silly while doing it, but for the first time in a week I was able to take a deep breath through my nose without being all stuffed up. I won't hesitate to use this thing again next time I get sick!

Saline nasal spray: This is a great thing to add in between uses with the Neti-pot, or if you don't have a neti-pot or don't want to try using it. It does a great job of clearing up nasal congestion temporarily. Perfect for using right before bed and when you wake up in the morning!

Until the days when scientists find a cure for those pesky viruses, we just have to try to make ourselves as comfortable and functional as possible while our bodies fight off the sickness. Hopefully the hints above will provide you with a few new ideas on how to help with congestion and make you able to record that urgent voiceover job for your favorite client!

Written by:  Bethany Baker      Such A Voice Marketing Director


  1. Great tips thanks! I hate missing out on auditions or bookings because of pesky colds, especially during the winter months. I find recording midday helps to make the "stuffed up sound" die down a little. As for otc meds, mucinex works great, to clear you up quickly, but I find if I take too much then I get that "mouth noise" because it really dries out your nasal passage. I guess the best thing to do is wash your hands often and hopefully avoid getting sick at all!

  2. Great article...As a professional VO artist I have tried all of these suggestions at one time or another. Here's another product I recently started using with great results...

    Entertainer's Secret Throat Relief is a spray formulated to resemble natural mucosal secretions and designed to moisturize, humidify, and lubricate the mucous membranes of the throat and larynx.


  3. Amen to Neti pot, but get additives with zinc,. Also at first ache/ slow-record energy loss of oncoming cold, get and take Umcka. Limits severity and duration. Then use Mucinex to keep it from thickening. Add Breatherights.

    I also avoid gluten . Lesson from Chinese medicine: gluten is hard on digestion and digestive trouble = respiratory congestion.

    Above gets me back in saddle in between 3-6 days, keeps the system open in meantime.

  4. 1. Avoid cold/ limit it: 75 mg zinc per day; at first sign, get and use Umcka-- works like charm, no side effects. Stay in good aerobic shape. Use 1-2 GM fish oil per day (high quality). 15-30 minutes sunlight per day, outdoors. No gluten, no dairy exc real yogurt.
    2. Keep channels clear. Neti pot with naturopathic additives (Himilayan Institute): Mucinex; Netipot, asthma inhalers. Hot, real, full calory chicken soup. Breathe Rights. Food with Tabasco, Louisiana hot sauce, Texas Pete, Dattledoit, etc.
    3. Bad, counterproductive : OTC decongestants ( liquid or pills: rebound, thickening). Eating a lot: starve a cold, feed a fever.

  5. Regarding the neti pot; I've been using it for over 2 years now. It works. I no longer am plagued by sinusitis, colds & congestion due to allergies. However, rather than waiting until you're sick to use it, I highly recommend neti potting at least 3 x per week & it will keep colds & congestion in check. Now that my nasal passages are clear 98% of the time; I can actually feel when there's a germ or something trying to nest in my nose & wreak havoc. When I feel that I immediately neti pot & the problem is cleared up. If the idea of the neti pot makes you uncomfortable, there's also a gravity neti pot type of thing in which the solution is squirted the up & out without having to tilt your head at a certain angle. I've heard it's easier to get used to. Which ever one you use, use it. Like I said before, these things work!!