Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov via Compfight cc

Sickness hits almost everyone at some point. Consider these five questions before you press record. (Remember that I can't give medical advice, so these are things for you to consider and decide for yourself or ask a doctor.)

1. Would it hurt your recovery?

Rest is one of the best ways to treat almost any sickness. Podcasting may not require a lot of energy, but it's more than resting. Maybe your voice needs to relax, or maybe it takes too much energy to sit at a computer for a few hours.

Consider carefully whether you may be slowing your recovery by trying to podcast.

2. Are your symptoms distracting?

Many common illnesses come with some of similar symptoms: coughing, sneezing, running nose, sore throat, and lose of voice. Letting these into your podcast could either be very distracting and annoying for your audience, or they may make a lot of editing work for you.

If you decide to podcast, don't start with an apology! I've observed that most podcasters who apologize for their sick voice have barely a noticeable difference. How we hear ourselves (via bone conduction) can be affected by congestion. So we may not actually sound as different as we think.

Can you talk for the length of your podcast without coughing or clearing your throat?

As gross as this sounds, consider letting your nose run a little and only wipe it instead of sniffling or blowing your nose during the recording.

If you produce a video show, then your symptoms may be a lot harder to hide.

3. Are you contagious?

If you podcast with others or with others' equipment, you should make sure you're not contagious before you start podcasting. Even if no one else records with you, you may be placing contagions on your equipment that you'll pick up again later.

The general advice I've seen is that you're not contagious after a week from when your common sickness started.

4. Would your content suffer?

You may be eager to podcast, but do you really have enough strength to give it your best? Can you think and speak clearly? Are you coherent enough to present your information understandably?

Do you really want to publish something you know isn't your best because you were sick?

5. Can your content and audience wait?

Even when all seems well and you feel your could give this your best and be proud of it, you may still need the break.

Your audience will be understanding if you let them know that you're too sick to do a show. If you have great content and you've built a loyal audience, then both can wait an extra few days or a week.

Did you answer yes to any of the above?

If your answer is yes to any of the previous five questions, then maybe you should take a break and not podcast while you're sick.

Quick health tips for sick podcasters

Again, I can't give medical advice, but these are some tips you may want to research and potentially use when you're a sick podcaster.

  • Get lots of rest!
  • Drink lots of room-temperature water!
  • Wash your hands.
  • Don't touch your face.
  • Avoid sick people (if possible).
  • Have a generic “No episode this week” announcement you can post like a normal podcast episode. Remove this when you're back on schedule.
  • Suck on some lemons and gargle warm salt water if you need your voice. (This was my salvation during CES 2013.)
  • Avoid sugar. Sweeten things with honey if you must.
  • Don't overwork yourself. If you feel you can't work anymore, then stop!
  • Avoid coughing, hacking, and harshly clearing your throat. You can usually control these with your will and avoiding them will keep your throat and voice in better condition.

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About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.
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10 years ago

Hey Daniel, good topic, as I’ve been dealing with a sniffle for the past few weeks. I’ve been utilizing the mute button quite a bit when my co-host is talking, and other than doing just a few more edits in the past couple episodes I don’t think its been noticeable in the show.

10 years ago

I actually made one for about $7 with stuff from Radio Shack. Super easy.

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