So, I've decided to blog from time to time. First blog ever so here goes.
Of recent people have asked me about steaming for the voice. How long to steam for? What to steam with? Should you add Vicks or Olbas oils? Can you sing after steaming?
Advice I've been given from ENT doctors is to steam only with water. Adding anything with menthol to your water actually has a drying affect to the vocal chords (dehydrates). The point of steaming is to hydrate the vocal chords and it helps take down any inflammation, thins mucus and keeps vocal folds limber. So by adding menthol can have a reverse affect, it can be an irritant, dehydrating the chords.
There's so many things you can use to steam the voice with, and I've done them all LOL! The traditional head over bowl of water with a towel over your head, Facial sauna's you can get from places like argos, Boots, Superdrugs. Hand held steamers like MyPurmist (US product), BaByliss. Ceramic inhaler by Dr Nelsons found at John Bell & Croydon, portable nebuliser by Beurer, portable steam tents or simply visiting a steam room at your local spa or your gym. Fact is all of these are going to do the job which is to hydrate the chords and take down inflammation. For me my preference is the Dr Nelsons cermamic inhaler, but you'll find what works for you. You only really need to steam for 5 mins or so. So steaming for hours on end doesn't improve your chances in having a clearer voice. Only the magic of 100% no talking (not even making a sound) vocal rest can do that.
People have asked, after steaming can I talk?
I've never been told I can't talk but, I have been told to give it at least 20 mins after steaming before I sing. Reason I have been told are it can cause, (don't panic), a vocal bleed. This doesn't necessarily mean you will get a vocal bleed if you sing straight away after steaming it's a precaution, one which I take as I believe better to be safe than sorry after all it's the last thing you'd want.
I'm no doctor so if you have questions it's always worth asking a specialist ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat) doctor. Your GP is not going to be able to give you the info you need epesh if you frequently use your voice whether that be a singing, acting, teaching or someone who's job require more vocal use than normal.
The last thing I'd say about steaming is make sure your water is not boiling hot. Just warm enough so you feel the warmth. I know sometimes it feels like it's not hot enough but it probably is. Good vocal hygiene would say steam twice a day. So a minimum of 20 mins before you sing and after you sing, eg after your cool down.
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I've added links so you can check out some of the steaming options listed in this blog.
Hope this is some what helpful.