How to stifle a cough?
December 14, 2011 8:02 PM   Subscribe

Need your best hacks for stifling a cough--in time for a choral performance tomorrow.

The aftermath of a head cold has left me with a cough that is more pronounced at night. I need your best advice, tricks, etc for stifling that cough as I am to perform with a choral group tomorrow 12/15. The cold/cough does not affect my singing. Thanks for your fellow singers will be grateful and so will I.
posted by Ginesthoi to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My go-to cough fix during karaoke league season is Fisherman's Friend. An actor friend of mine who also sings turned me on to it. If you're in the US, you should be able to find it at your local drugstore.
posted by immlass at 8:20 PM on December 14, 2011

Sugar free Halls without cease (please please please for the love of your teeth use sugar free cough drops!).
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:21 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Folks I sing with also use Fisherman's Friend, although I can't tolerate the taste. I use Hall's sugar free cough drops, interspersed with very hot liquid. I used to use tea as the heat source, but it turns out that you can use very hot water and it works just as well.

An old choral conductor of mine used to swear by a hot toddy (this is pretty close to his recipe).
posted by blurker at 8:30 PM on December 14, 2011

Singer friends of mine also use Fisherman's friend, and hot toddys/hot lemon water.
posted by answergrape at 8:47 PM on December 14, 2011

I've tried Fisherman's Friend, and personally, I had better luck with Ricola sugar free lemon. It has to be sugar free and it has to be lemon; the others don't work for me. I have no idea what the difference is.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:37 PM on December 14, 2011

IANAD, this is not medical advice, but if you have access to a doctor on such short notice, consider explaining your problem and asking for their help. When I was in high school, I had an irrepressible cough and a choir performance, and (with my mom's permission) my doctor gave me a very small prescription for a cough suppressant in pill form that I could take that day. It worked for me with no side effects, but obviously introducing prescription drugs introduces a whole new set of risks. Also, I hope you are not awake to read this because you should be getting as much rest and fluids as possible up until you perform. I hope you feel better. Good luck!
posted by juliplease at 9:58 PM on December 14, 2011

Blow your nose thoroughly beforehand and drink lots of liquids in whatever form for a few hours previously. (Of course this might affect your bladder, so YMMV). My lingering coughs tend to be triggered by (sorry - TMI alert) mucus dripping down and irritating the back of my throat. (This happens more at night because you tend to be in a more horizontal position, so maybe the choir performance won't be too much of a problem anyway). Clearing everything out, and drinking liquid to dilute the remaining mucus to the point where it *ahem* slips down more easily should keep you less coughy.

Ew. Ew. Ew. I can't believe I just wrote those last few sentences. But it is true. Even if you don't THINK it's mucus-related, and even if your cough is "dry". A dry cough just means the mucus isn't getting stuck and coming up again, but it doesn't mean it isn't irritating your throat on the way down.
posted by lollusc at 10:40 PM on December 14, 2011

I would head to a pharmacy and get a cough suppressant mixture and take the recommended dose ~2hrs before performing.

Until then, I guess it's whichever old wive's tale you are most comforted by. Personally, I like sipping the warm lemon/H20 (with HONEY! +/- a few drops of brandy). If it's possible, spend time in in a humid bathroom. Or you could fill a basin with really hot water and put the towel over the head deal. Not sure if it's worth putting anything in the water. Maybe ammonia/seneca -- this is something to ask the pharmacist imho. In fact, the pharmacist is your answer on all fronts here at this stage, unless you have superspecial access to an Ear Nose & Throat specialist. Keep drinking water.
posted by peacay at 1:41 AM on December 15, 2011

Fisherman's Friend is THE BEST, but beware that you risk emptying the concert hall due to its potent stink. At bedtime I will have some hot lemonade, but that's not a solution that you can take into a show.

Mind you, nothing else works as well as Fisherman's Friend for me so I keep a pack in every coat, stink be damned.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:24 AM on December 15, 2011

I had a persistent cough from a cold last year and the doctor told me that the only medication that actually has any effect on suppressing a cough--short of codeine--is naproxen (Aleve). Mucinex helps too if your cough is also congested. I tried this and it worked wonderfully.
posted by castlebravo at 11:07 AM on December 15, 2011

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