How to feel better when I can't see a doctor yet?
April 29, 2012 9:54 AM   Subscribe

I have some sort of cold or other infection and cannot afford to miss classes or assignments this week. How can I alleviate the symptoms (or feel less miserable, at least) until I'm able to see a doctor?

I plan to see a doctor early this week, but can't make an appointment until tomorrow. What can I do in the meantime to feel less miserable? I'd love to hang out in bed and rest, but final exams are next week and I have multiple tests and assignments due in the next few days.


Since Thursday, I've had terrible sinus pressure, congestion, headaches (most of my head hurting, not restricted to one side), body aches, sore throat, sneezing (only yesterday), and coughing. I've woken up quite early every day since because I've been coughing so much. Possibly TMI: the coughs are productive and the phlegm is yellowish brown. All the coughing has made my throat sore and scratchy. My voice is really hoarse/raspy and it kind of hurts to talk. It feels like my body is sore everywhere even though I haven't done anything particularly strenuous.

What I've tried:

Mucinex (dextromethorphan and guaifenesin): seemed to help, but didn't alleviate the coughing very much.
Excedrin (acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine): taken for the headache yesterday morning around 6am, which worked.
Alka-Seltzer Plus for sinus congestion (acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine, phenylephrine): taken yesterday afternoon, which stopped the sneezing but I'm not sure if it did much else.
Nyquil night time cold/flu (acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine): taken kind of late last night, seems to have done nothing. I woke up achy and coughing again.
In the past, I've used a neti pot to help with the sinus congestion/pressure, but it didn't do anything if my sinuses were already really congested.


Around three weeks ago, I had a sinus infection with lots of congestion, pressure, and drainage. It went away relatively quickly with treatment (antibiotics and Mucinex-D). Also, I've been spacing out any doses of the above medicines throughout the day to avoid taking too much acetaminophen.
posted by cp311 to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I find a spoonful of honey works well for coughs and dry, sore throats. Also, gargling with warm water, salt, and cayenne. If you can get your hands on it propolis spray is wonderful. Another thing to try is inhaling steam with eucalyptis oil. Finals are a tough time to be sick; I hope you feel better soon!
posted by release the hardwoods! at 10:11 AM on April 29, 2012

Pseudoephedrine saved my life that week where I had a bad cold/buckethead/possibly ruptured eardrum. You know why that Alka-Seltzer did nothing? Phenylephrine is a crime to humanity; it's a substitute for pseudoephedrine, but even doctors have told me it does nothing. Pseudoephredrine is behind the counter now.
posted by lhude sing cuccu at 10:17 AM on April 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

Do you have a humidifier? Taking a lot of hot showers and being in a very humid room whenever you can helps.

I like Buckley's stuff. I find that it is less dehydrating than other stuff, it's effective, and that actually it tastes better than fake cherry flavour does.

Honey-ginger tea (take a ginger root, slice it up a bit, boil in water, strain, serve with honey) can help a lot. Eating crazy spicy food will clear your sinuses out.
posted by jeather at 10:29 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Email your professors and let them know that you're sick with a possible sinus infection or flu or something. (at this point, you can include "but I still plan to turn everything in on time", or whatever)

That way, if it gets really bad, they're in the loop and can help you, rather than having their hands tied because you only got around to mentioning you were sick the day of the exam or something.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:30 AM on April 29, 2012

Seconding pseudoephedrine - it's the only thing that will make me somewhat productive when I'm feeling as awful as you sound right now. Just be careful about mixing with caffeine since that can make you jittery.
posted by barnoley at 10:43 AM on April 29, 2012

Sleep. Drink fluids. Eat well.

If you have a cold, which is what this sounds like, you need to let your body heal. Tylenol for aches and pains related to fever, psuedoephedrine for congestion, and give your body a rest form the rest of your list.
posted by ellF at 10:46 AM on April 29, 2012

The air in the Austrian Alps cured those symptoms for me, but if that's not practical for you, try some Knoblauchcremesuppe: . The garlic will clear your sinuses, and it's easy on the throat.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 10:56 AM on April 29, 2012

Another vote for pseudoephedrine (the real stuff, not phenylephrine). Don't forget aspirin or ibuprofen, if you can take them and they're not mixed in with any of the other stuff you're taking.
posted by dilettante at 11:11 AM on April 29, 2012

I assume it's getting an appointment that's the problem. Can you swing into one of those doc-in-the-box places that's just a nurse or PA in a Walgreen's or pharmacy or grocery store and you just sort of walk up and they take you in pretty quick? They can write scripts for most things and if nothing else could give you the prescription-grade decongestants/cough meds that would do you some real good.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:14 AM on April 29, 2012

Um, I'm a TA and I will say this: please don't come to class and infect me and everyone else. Especially before finals. Email your professor(s). Tell them what's going on. Try to come up with a plan to get things turned in on time, made up, etc. They can give you an incomplete if you are sick for a long period of time. They can let you turn things in at other points. But, trust me, no one wants you there if you are going to spray germs around, likely fall asleep or be otherwise out of it, and be miserable. It sounds like you are a contentious student, so this will hopefully be no problem. If you've dicked around earlier in the semester, you may run into resistance.
posted by mrfuga0 at 11:25 AM on April 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

According to my doctor, the only things that really make a cold go away faster are fluids and sleep. But I'd add pseudoephedrine into the mix if you possibly can, and try doing a neti pot with hypertonic solution.
posted by KathrynT at 11:29 AM on April 29, 2012

Prof here, although IANYP. As mrfuga0 says, please do not come to class, no matter how much you think you need to. (And don't come to office hours and say, "Um, Prof TJW, I'm dying from a horrible virus." Because I would really prefer not to have your virus while I've got ninety finals to grade.) Contact your professors, make arrangements (up to and including a makeup final exam), but for the love of George Eliot, stay away from everyone else while you're infectious. We deal with people in this situation all the time. It's no big deal.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:37 PM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

2nding lots of liquids and rest, as well as giving pseudoephedrine a try if that's worked for you in the past.

Also: you've been using a lot of products that contain acetaminophen. Be careful of overdosing. The maximum daily dose is 3000mg. That may sound like a lot, but it's only 6 extra strength Tylenols. If you're taking several products with acetaminophen, you could be coming close to this limit.
posted by pecanpies at 12:39 PM on April 29, 2012

Elderberry extract
posted by caryatid at 1:08 PM on April 29, 2012

Response by poster: Pseudoephedrine works for me, but it's available by prescription only in my state and I don't have any right now. I don't have aspirin or ibuprofen, but I can try Aleve for the aches.

I've emailed the professors whose lectures I'll be missing tomorrow. Hopefully, I can get an appointment with the doctor ASAP and get this taken care of.
posted by cp311 at 7:04 PM on April 29, 2012

Do as Jeather suggested and brew up some ginger tea! Get the gnarliest looking ginger root you can find, chop it up, steep it in hot water, and choke it down somehow. Last year I had a cough that literally lasted over a month, but I killed it in just a couple days by drinking ginger tea. Ginger is a miracle. A disgusting tasting miracle.
posted by silverstatue at 8:53 AM on April 30, 2012

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