When you’re feeling under the weather, the last thing you want to do is sing. But what if your livelihood depends on it?

Respiratory infections, including the common cold and flu, can have a significant impact on our voices. However, singing with a cold or flu is generally safe, according to Declan Costello, a specialist laryngologist at Wexham Park Hospital in the UK. Blocked sinuses or a sore throat are unlikely to affect your singing ability, though they may feel different to the singer. For non-professional performers, it is best to avoid singing to prevent the spread of the virus. Laryngitis, an inflammation of the voice box caused by viral infections, can cause hoarseness, a sore throat, and coughing. When suffering from laryngitis, singers are advised to rest their voice and avoid performing. The main warning signs of laryngitis are vocal fatigue and difficulty singing or speaking. Assistant professor Deirdre Michael emphasizes that laryngitis is not always painful and singers should rest their voice before discomfort sets in. Hoarseness is often the first sign that your vocal cords are struggling, and professional opera singers often report difficulty controlling notes in the middle and lower ranges of their vocal range when their vocal cords become fatigued.

In conclusion, if you have a cold or flu, you can still sing, but it is best to avoid singing if you have laryngitis or are experiencing vocal fatigue and hoarseness. If you are a professional singer, it is important to monitor your voice and take breaks when necessary to avoid further damage to your vocal cords.