Spring and your Voice. Beware of allergies !

Spring is upon us if you happen to be in the Northern hemisphere. There’s a hint of warmth in the sunshine and there’s the promise of warmer days to come. All is good in the world. Or is it?

I hate to put a downer on this but spring can be the harbinger of misfortune for the voice-over artist. Why? Because of the dreaded allergens. I mean spores, pollen and other airborne particles that bring on sneezing and nasal congestion.

There are some considerations to understand the threat of allergy. According to specialist Mark A. Williams, M.D., Ph.D. the voice is not just about the vocal cords, it is actually originated in the resonating chamber located in the throat, mouth and nose. The distinctive sizes and forms of these cavities actually make your unique and characteristic voice. What happens is that allergens can cause congestion and inflammation in the resonating chamber. As a result your voice will not be the same and you don't want that since your voice is your main tool to work.

Yes, those nasty allergens can provoke a seasonal downturn in your voice-over business and if you don’t protect yourself against them then you could miss out on several weeks of work if you are an unfortunate allergy sufferer. This will leave you seriously out of pocket not to mention the clients you might upset along the way because you couldn’t fulfill a voice-over obligation.

You might say. Hey I should get covered. I can't stop my industry. If football players insure their legs, can you insure your voice? 

Well, yes would you believe, you can at certain companies but given the price of insurance premiums for doing this it isn’t really a viable option. However, don’t despair, if you are a budding voice-over artist and also an allergy sufferer there is plenty you can do to guard against the worst affects. Here are a few tips from some :

  • Drink plenty of water. Yes this same advice again, because we know it really is a good piece of advice for a VO artist anyway. Dehydration is one of the main things that affect the voice from performing at its best so you need to keep drinking water regularly to be on top of your game. For allergy sufferers water will help to thin out the mucus, clear your throat and make it easier to speak clearly.
  • Some VO artists swear by gargling with warm salt water or drinking hot water with a hint of honey and lemon in it. This helps to soothe the throat and reduce mucus levels.
  • Try lozenges rather than cough drops. Most cough drops contain menthol and this can really dry your throat too much for performing voice overs. Lozenges are seen as a better option so speak to your pharmacist.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Michael J.Pitman, M.D. from The Voice and Swallowing Institute at T... argues that "antihistamines should be avoided at all costs'. According to Dr Pitman, the body makes up to two liters of mucus a day, creating a protective layer over the vocal cords that makes them flexible. If antihistamines dry up the mucus, our vocal cords become dry and stiff. This can lead to inflammation and a hoarse voice.

According to Dr Pitman the best thing to do is using nasal steroid sprays, which can relieve the allergy while reducing the nasal drip. These nasal sprays don't dehydrate our resonance chamber, nor our vocal cords. In case nasal steroid spray does nothing to treat your symptoms, use Montelukast pills. Taken nightly they can prevent allergies and some asthma symptoms. The good thing from montelukast pills is that there no drying side effects of other treatments.

f you need urgent relief, then use nasal antihistamines such as Olopatadine (Patanase). Bad taste bad can really heal if taken daily.  

If all else fails make an appointment to see an allergist. They can become your best friend when the allergy season kicks in!

If you’re a VO artist that is dreading the start of spring then please take heed of the above. There are things you can do to guard against allergens and to make sure that you don’t miss out on any voice over work. Thankfully the allergy season is relatively short so if you are well prepared, you can weather the storm!

How do you protect your voice from allergens? Do you have any other tips that would help? Would love to hear from you so please share your experience HERE.

More content on VOs at  VOICE-OVER PLAZA, with thoughts, tips and tools for professional voice talents.  Powered by DIRECTVOICES, the international trading platform for voice artists. 

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