Why is Vocal Health Important?
Vocal health is extremely important to me as I love to sing, and it's frustrating when you get a cough or cold or your singing away to your favorite song and your throat becomes scratchy. Is it safe to continue singing with a cough or cold and how do I spot the signs of damaging my voice and when it's time to rest.
You're right its that dreaded moment as a singer when you start to realise your getting ill!
It all depends where in your cold you are, and how its affecting your voice. If you have a runny nose or typical head cold then the only issues you face are the gunk, However if you are only able to breath through your mouth you are more likely to suffer problems with your singing because you will be dragging dry air in across your vocal folds. Most people with colds don't actually loose their voices because they have a throat infection its usually a knock on affect of other symptoms - if you have a chesty cough, then even though theres nothing technically wrong with your vocal folds in the beginning after a few days of coughing and battering them together you may find your voice feeling sore or hoarse.
It comes down to - what are you capable of? I really wouldn't suggest anything too heavy but I also don't usually recommend complete vocal rest unless its your throat which is the issue. You will need to up your vocal care routine, steam lots and keep hydrated. Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol and smoking and really stay away from decongestants if you intend to be singing throughout your cold as they just dry up mucous which then makes your voice much less flexible and harder to clear your throat which in turn can cause you to slam your vocal folds if your trying to shift it.
The bottom line is, if you don't have to sing - then maybe avoid it (your probably not going to feel up to much anyway and pushing the voice - stick to your SOS exercises and bottle and straw exercises to help relieve any tension built up through coughing, (If anyone doesn't have their discs yet check them out here) But keep your voice moving.
Big warning signs are the voice cracking, hoarseness and loss of voice. When its an illness all we can do is follow our vocal care routine and ride it out. Trying our best to limit any further complications. I did write a series of blogs on singers with colds a while back which may be of interest you can find it on The Vocal Health Pages by clicking here
Hope that gives you some guidance!