Does honey, lemon and tea help your voice when you are unwell? 🍯🍋☕️
This is a common question I get asked in my studio and the short answer is, no not really.
Common cold and flu viruses can cause the vocal folds and throat area to become inflamed and swollen often resulting in viral laryngitis. This causes loss of vocal range and deepening of the voice and in some cases, complete voice loss. Although drinking home tea remedies may temporarily alleviate the pain of a sore throat, it is unlikely that your tea will reduce the swelling in your vocal folds.
Our true vocal folds are protected by the epiglottis and false vocal folds. These structures cover our true vocal folds when we swallow to prevent food and drink entering our lungs. This means that anything you drink will not have direct contact with your true vocal folds - if it did, you would choke!
So how can you help your voice when you are unwell?
1. Stay hydrated: Internal hydration: Drink the recommended 2L of water per day to help keep the vocal folds lubricated.
External hydration: Inhaling steam or saline solution adds moisture directly onto the vocal folds when breathing and rehydrates the vocal folds.
2. Perform semi-occluded vocal tract exercises (SOVT's): Exercises like single notes using straw phonation or gentle sob sirens using a smooth vocal fold onset and free airflow can help reduce swelling in the vocal folds when performed correctly and for limited amounts of time.
3. Limit unnecessary voice use until your voice returns. If you have complete voice loss, do not attempt to force your speech or whisper. Reduce your vocal load at work or during social settings if possible.
4. Reduce coughing and unnecessary throat clearing: Excessive coughing and throat clearing can result in additional swelling of the true vocal folds. This is due to the increased collision force of the vocal folds coming together during these tasks. Seek medical advice if symptoms persist.
5. Check in with a qualified voice professional for more advice or if voice symptoms do not improve after three weeks.