susan-eichhorn-young-180.jpgHave you ever been really congested, stuffy or full of phlegm?

These symptoms are annoying, and if you’re a voice over professional, are an especially costly nuisance that can tamper with your voice and livelihood.
What can you do about it?
While I’m not a doctor, and haven’t played one on TV, I’ve found that one recipe in particular has helped to drain the sinuses, help ward off viruses and get rid of thick, disgusting mucous in your throat that I’d like to share with you, courtesy of voice instructor, Susan Eichhorn Young.

Being Sick Sucks

When you’re up, you’re up, and when you’re down, you’re down. Isn’t it amazing how one little cold can go a long way to wreak havoc with your voice?
I have been suffering from a cold that started roughly one month ago that is now just finally eradicating itself which I attribute to many out-of-the-ordinary networking activities I participated in over the course of a busy, tiring week.

When visiting my family doctor several weeks ago, I discovered that I had an ear infection, lots of congestion, and was also the reluctant owner of a mild cough. He remarked that he had seen more people who were sick in the month of April than he had throughout the entire winter.

Something was definitely making the rounds. I was prescribed some medication to help (which did clear out the ear infection), but I was still left with a persistent cough and nasal congestion. This coughing, which was intolerable, rendered many of my conversations painful. I also blew my nose far too hard on one side and ended up, in conjunction with the cough, stretching an intercostal muscle. Needless to say, that’s a painful lesson!

Your intercostal muscles are muscles found in between your ribs. If you hurt or stretch one of these muscles, it becomes difficult and painful to cough, sneeze, laugh, and even breathe comfortably. You may also find that your mobility is limited, not because your arm is infirm, but because lifting the ribcage is a painful process to endure.

Having said all this, I feel that I could have done something earlier in addition to what I took medicine wise to perhaps prevent the stretching of my intercostal muscles and in due course, shortening the time of my cold overall…

Feeling Better Tips for Voice Actors and Singers

To give you some background, I studied at the University of Western Ontario at the Don Wright Faculty of Music, graduating with a Bachelor of Musical Arts. My instrument, as you may have guessed, was voice. Years of training as a classical singer have paid off, but so has listening to a trusted and beloved teacher!

For a number of years, I studied privately with Susan Eichhorn Young when she was on faculty at UWO. Susan is a Canadian soprano and voice teacher currently teaching voice at CAP21 in the Musical Theatre Studio in the Drama Department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and lives in New York City with her husband, Thomas Young, tenor and member of the celebrated trio, Three Mo Tenors, Cook, Dixon and Young.
It was because this cold that I was inspired to ask her once again for her recipe.

A Liberating Recipe For Banishing Congestion

Susan has this amazing remedy that just drains all the gunk out of your sinuses to breathe easier and free yourself from feeling like something the cat dragged in. It’s a very easy, inexpensive recipe to make and I’ve included it here for you to try:

What you’ll need ingredients wise:
One ginger root
2 Lemons
1. Get a nice big pot and put it on the stove.
2. Fill the pot with water.
3. Cut up an entire ginger root and 2 lemons (with the rinds included).
4. Bring the mixture to a slow boil; simmer and cover.
5. Let it is get mushy!
6. Strain the liquid, drink… and feel fabulous!

This works nearly every time. If you are feeling yucky, icky or simply need to cleanse your instrument, perhaps you might try this recipe.

New York City, Midtown Manhattan to be precise, is very fortunate to have Susan living and teaching there. As a voice actor, it doesn’t hurt to get some singing or theatrical training. I don’t give recommendations often or freely, however, I do recommend that you look Susan up if you’re interested in improving your singing, breathing techniques, building the core of your voice, auditioning, or acting and interpretation, exploring different aspects of your voice that you never knew existed while developing a wider range.
You can also follow Susan Eichhorn Young on Twitter.

Have You Been Sick Lately? What Have You Done to Get Better?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


  1. Hi Stephanie,
    Sorry to hear you’ve been so sick! April and May always seem to be the heart of cold season for me, so thanks for the recipe.
    When I’m really congested I like to bring a pot of water to boil, remove it from the stove and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil. I lean over the water with a towel draped over my head to keep the vapor in. It’s a great way to clear a stuffy head!
    I hope you continue to mend!
    All the best,
    Ashley Huyge

  2. I think I’ve probably said this once before, and my remedy is similar but has a few more ingredients.
    Squeeze one lemon…
    add honey…
    a chilli…
    chop up a glove or two of garlic…
    cut up some ginger…
    pour boiling water over – use an infuser tea pot or mug…
    and drink!
    Interesting flavour and will have you stinking for days, but works an absolute treat. Nip it in the bud and drink up at the first signs of a cold.

  3. Good topic (hope you feel better soon 😉
    I use a Nielmed nasal irrigation system daily. It’s basically a saline rinse for your nose. The older method is called a Neti Pot, but I find them difficult to use.
    Nielmed (and other brands too) is a squeeze bottle. You put in a pre-measured saline packet, fill with warm water. Then gently squeeze up one nostrill, and the water drains out the other.
    Yeah, I know! But once you get past the “aaaah! I’m drowning” reaction, it’s very easy.
    There’s something going around right now, and I can say the nasal rinse has prevented and/or lessened my symptoms. Been using it for several years now.
    It’s cheap, and well worth a try in my opinion.

  4. Thank you all for your comments! I am indeed starting to feel better. Stretching an intercostal muscle takes some time to heal but I have faith that it will be as good as new soon.
    I hope that the stories and comments thus far will help others!

  5. I love the ginger lemonade recipe – I’ll try it. Trader Joes has a Ginger Lemondade (with Echinacea I think) which I heat up and drink.
    These are always on-hand and part of my arsenal and I use them all every few hours as necessary
    Zinc lozenges – but careful can dry mouth if recording
    Vitamin C 1000 mg
    Elderberry extract is my newest addition in the battle
    I use a neti pot at least a couple of times a day – amazing how this will help, occasionally I’ll put a few drops of echinacea with goldenseal in the water if seems likely that a sinus infection is going on
    and always
    lot’s of chicken soup – add crushed garlic immediately before eating soup so it doesn’t cook out out the garlic power – actually, sometimes I just chomp down on a clove and apologize later
    AND REST – and don’t go out and infect others!
    Be well, be happy, have fun

  6. Thanks Stephanie and Susan! Great recipe. Nothing worse than knowing a cold coming on. Not only suffering with the sickness but then trying to push yourself through a voice over session to keep clients happy. The sooner you can beat it the better. I always like chicken broth to warm up the vocals on those days.
    I can’t say I’m looking forward to using your recipe, but I’ll be glad I can combat it now when the next cold hits.

  7. I find the best way is to not get sick in the first place. Actually it’s called prevention. I take a regiment of vitamins everyday. C, A, E, B1, B12, B6, Calcium, Magnesium, and Garlic. If I start feeling a little sick, (snuffles, stuffiness, congestion, cough, sore throat, or aches) I increase the C, A, E, and Garlic. By following this I haven’t had a cold last more than 3 days in over 10 years, haven’t had the flu either. Seems to work well for sinus problems also. The proof in the pudding is: I have been live on Sirius Radio every week since May of 2003 and have yet to miss a scheduled broadcast ( over 750 of them). Works for me.

  8. Yikes, Stephanie. I hope you’re feeling better. I picked up a little cold while traveling last weekend, and have been nursing it, too. Fortunately, I was able to work throughout its untimely duration. Of course, colds are never timely are they?
    Stay Well!
    Bobbin Beam

  9. I got a sore throat last night! That is my only symptom. I thought I was dying of swine flu. But I’m still alive today.
    I followed some of these great tricks and I’m feeling better. (able to speak again). Something is going around. Its almost summer!
    Isn’t there a rule that you can’t get sick in summer?
    -Brent Allen

  10. I do what grandma always said: gargle with warm salt water! 1 Tablespoon salt in a cup of warm water,
    sniff a little up your nose. (After all, that is what saline is…salt! No need to buy expensive solutions!)
    Also, great for sinuses: one Tblsp of apple cider vinegar (best is one “with the mother” on the label) in a cup of water and sip.
    My kids always resisted these until they learned a little discomfort at first prevents a long, miserable cold.

  11. I recommend a Neti Pot , filled with warm water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1or 2 tbsps of a product called Alkalol, which you can buy over the counter at the pharmacist. This is a great way for getting rid of any nasty nasal stuff.


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