How to evict a chest cold before it finishes moving in.
July 9, 2005 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I love medical advice from strangers on the internet: favorite chest cold remedies.

I've just 80% kicked a head cold only to wake up this morning hacking up phlegm bunnies (just tiny yellow flecks so far). I'm generally prone to bronchitis and this is a really bad sign. What do people generally do to head off a chest cold that's trying to set up residence? Mega doses of Vitamic C? Hot lemonade? Steam baths? Prayer? I've got the rest and fluids things down (which has made me have to cancel some weekend plans, darnit), but am wondering what works for other people.

(Disclaimer: yes, I realize the only reliable source of medical advice is an actual MD, and believe me, the second the phlem bunnies turn bright yellow or get larger, I've got my GP on speed-dial - I'm trying to head this thing off before it gets to that point.)
posted by Karmakaze to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I like yellow triaminic, although it was better when it had phenylpropanolamine in place of pseudoephedrine. Either of the above compounds thins the bronchial secretions (as well as imbuing you with a vague sensation of well-being), and the guaifenesin makes you cough 'em out.

I also usually take 2 aspirin with this. I'm old fashioned.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:13 PM on July 9, 2005

I second the Mucinex. Remember to drink lots of (scotch and) water. Really, drink the water it helps the guaifenesin do its work.
posted by Carbolic at 7:17 PM on July 9, 2005

O. M. G.

Carbolic: I just poured a glass of Johnny Walker (black). And I'm doing the phlegm-hacking thing. Spooky.
posted by chota at 7:51 PM on July 9, 2005

I make hot toddies to combat a cold.

1-2 shots of whiskey or rum
Juice of 1/2 lemon
about a tablespoon of honey
a dash of cinnamon
a dash of cloves
enough hot water to fill the mug

If you drink enough of them, you won't care that you're sick.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:27 PM on July 9, 2005 [4 favorites]

posted by delmoi at 9:40 PM on July 9, 2005

If you drink enough of them, you won't care that you're sick.

There's always psyedelic mushrooms. You won't even know you're sick. Or that you exist. :P
posted by delmoi at 9:42 PM on July 9, 2005

I say this every time the thread comes up, but I'll say it again: SLEEP. It's the only cure I've found, and it works exceedingly well for me. 12 hours a night, if you can manage it. Cold will be gone in 2 days, never to return. Sleep prevents colds, too. If you are always getting enough sleep (8 hours or whatever), you will rarely ever catch a cold in the first place.

A close second to sleep is proper nutrition. When I'm sick I take vitamin supplements and drink OJ for the extra vitamin C. Seems to help...
posted by knave at 10:07 PM on July 9, 2005

Oh, BTW I'm pretty sure alcohol is going to set back your recovery time.
posted by knave at 10:22 PM on July 9, 2005

Guaifenesin rocks my world. A shot of that and a steamy shower will always loosen my chest and release no mere bunnies of phlegm, but entire moose. Mooses. Meece. Whatever.

I once had extremely good luck in fighting off a cold by popping a few sleeping tablets over the course of 30-odd hours. Slept a night, a day, and another night, woke up feeling fit as a fiddle.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 PM on July 9, 2005

Nature's Answer Broncitone and Lobelia. Echinacea, too.
posted by brujita at 10:41 PM on July 9, 2005

My helpers for a cold?

Hot mint tea in copious amounts. Add honey for taste.

Avoidance of nearly all caffeine and processed sugar. It just makes me feel strung out when sick.

Chicken soup with a ton of garlic, also in copious amounts. If you can't handle solids, then chicken broth with garlic. If vegetarian, substitute with miso. The garlic, though, is key. We're talking about 1-2 cloves per cup of soup/broth here.

OJ or another juice high in Vitamin C.

Lots of sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:39 AM on July 10, 2005

Boil a couple of litres of water (that'd be a half gallon for you backward people) and pour it into a basin. A couple of drops of eucalyptus oil or manuka (tea-tree) oil in the basin. Put the basin on the dining table, grab a bath towel, stick it over your head so you can form a tent around the bowl, and breathe in the steamy vapour.

(Note: eucalyptus oil is quite poisonous when taken internally, don't be tempted.)

Maybe in the northern hemisphere you could substitute camphor oil? Dunno.

When I was a kid, you could buy this stuff from the Rawleigh man called Friar's Balsam which was widely used for steaming.

Anyway, this should loosen up the insides quite nicely, and rattling coughs that sound like someone shoveling gravel will ensue. So make sure you have something to spit into.

Also I agree with the chicken soup recommendation, and the guaifenesin syrup.

knave: I agree on the sleep, but as to the alcohol, you'd think so, but in my experience it makes no difference. I think the bugs don't like ethanol either.

Save the codeine for sinusitis. When the little men with crowbars come to take your cheekbones off, codeine is your friend (+ antibiotics, of course).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:07 AM on July 10, 2005

It's probably worth noting that guaifenesin is a natural product, and has been used as an expectorant for over a century or so.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:46 AM on July 10, 2005

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