Everyday illnesses

Colds and sore throats: It is the rare, lucky teacher who avoids catching at least one nasty cold or virus per year. The close proximity and questionable hygiene of young people besieged with viruses place the teacher at great risk of contamination. Caused by viruses, colds easily travel in a closed atmosphere such as a classroom. They typically last 4-6 days and can cause a sore throat, hoarseness, laryngitis or respiratory infection. The best way to prevent a cold is to build a healthy body: exercise, eat right and rest well. If you catch a cold, take it easy. Relax, eat lightly, and blow your nose gently to prevent further sinus or middle ear problems.

You may feel it's impossible to skip a day, but bed rest is the best medicine for a cold. Let your body heal itself, and don't spread the infection to your co-workers or students.

Allergies and other damp conditions: For teachers with allergies, management is key — and protecting your voice is a high priority. An allergy is the hyper-sensitive response to something in your environment. The allergen usually produces swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth, which may interfere with vocalization. Once you know the offender, you can try to avoid it. Barring that, medications can help. If allergies are more than a mild annoyance, you would benefit by working one-on-one with a physician with specialized training in these conditions (an allergist). Beware of the dual-edge of antihistamines: While antihistamines dry up mucous secretions (and make you feel better), they dehydrate voice tissues. If you use them, sip water throughout the day.