Advice for speaking/performing with a cold?
July 9, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

I have a cold. I have to talk to talk to a few groups of people in the next 48 hours, and want to avoid excessive coughing, crazy hoarseness, etc. Any advice?

So I have what I assume to be a pretty run-of-the-mill cold, that I've had for three or four days: I had at at various times a sore throat, runny nose, some fatigue, some coughing. Mostly able to go about my regular life, just a bit slower.

Normally, I'm pretty happy to let a cold run its course, and I usually don't take cold medicine.

But in the next while I have a couple of things I need to do where the cold might really get in the way: Tonight, I do a show at a bar where I talk to a hundred or so people, intermittently, over a couple of hours (using a mic). Tomorrow, I teach a class to a group of around 20 people.

Some of the cold symptoms I've had in the past while would get in the way of this. Most notably - I find if I talk loud for more than a few minutes, I start to cough a lot. This doesn't happen in normal conversation, but does if, say, I rehearse a prepared speech, projecting as if I were speaking to a group.


I'm interested in any advice people may have on tips for dealing with this. Are there medications I could use to help? I'm hoping for as little psychotropic effect as possible - I'd rather not be made speedy or drowsy (though if I had to choose one, I guess speedy would be better and drowsy worse). I'm in Canada, if that affects what sorts of medications are available.

Also - the symptoms seem to change a lot day-to-day. So right now, it seems, the worst problem is the dry, painful cough. But I'm interested in what people do for relief of other symptoms, too...

Any advice much appreciated!
posted by ManInSuit to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Dayquil, Sudafed cold & flu (with pseudoephedrine) pills, and/or halls menthol cough drops.

These are things that "make you feel better, even when you aren't."
posted by deanc at 8:47 AM on July 9, 2012

Saline nasal wash a million times a day. Make sure to use purified or distilled water (to avoid brain-eating amoebas). It will help clear out and moisturized dried nasal passages and the back of the throat (make sure to sniff hard at the end).

The throat-soothing sprays are also helpful, but more medicine-y and therefore subject to limits.
posted by nickhb at 8:48 AM on July 9, 2012

Mucinex will thin out the mucus and reduce the irritation from post-nasal drip that affects your voice and causes you to cough. A shot of warm whiskey immediately prior to speaking will do wonders as a short term solution for your voice.
posted by COD at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2012

I'm a huge fan of Fisherman's Friends. They're cough drops that won't turn your mouth blue, and are damned powerful.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2012

Agreed that a neti-pot to clear things out will help.

Get a giant Starbucks cup or a reusable stainless travel mug/thermos (or whatever is pretty innocuous in the context of your meeting) and fill it with hot Throat-Coat tea. Drink plenty before your meeting (if only to get used to the flavor so you don't make funny faces, but it also gives you a good baseline soothing) then sip it in between times you talk. The slippery elm bark is great for making my throat less itchy, and making me want to cough less.
posted by aimedwander at 9:16 AM on July 9, 2012

Something with pseudoephedrine, along with the aforementioned Fisherman's Friend, ought to do the trick. I do a saline nasal wash a couple times a day when I don't have a cold, and several times a day when I do. I find I have fewer colds than I used to without rinsing, and the rinsing soothes and moisturizes the sinus membranes, which helps your system get rid of the nastiness from colds more quickly.
posted by Koko at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2012

Nthing Fisherman's Friend. I also find that Throat Coat tea works wonders in clearing up a scratchy voice.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:56 AM on July 9, 2012

Licorice tea is throat-soothing.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:53 AM on July 9, 2012

When I do a lot of talking while in a mucus-rich condition, or just general dry-throat, I keep a supply (and I do mean supply, like a half-gallon) of lemon-water on standby.

If alcohol is on the menu, I recommend Fernet Branca, an Italian Herbal Digestif (aka Italian bitters) which is so powerfully herbal that its import was legal during prohibition, because the Secret Service didn't believe anyone could drink it for pleasure. (It's great with a ginger-ale chaser.) It's a weapons-grade herbal liqueur which has killed off more than one of my would-be colds contraceptively, and certainly would give a body-blow to any resident viral infestation in your throat. A couple of close runners up would be the Hungarian cousin Unicum, followed by its sweeter offspring, Zwack!.

You only need the one drink, though; don't want the alcohol to do you in.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:34 PM on July 9, 2012

I went with the Sudafed and Fisherman's Friends (as much as anything, because they were more readily available than most of the other options). They seemed to work well. Next time I'll try the throat coat tea. Thanks!!
posted by ManInSuit at 6:30 AM on July 10, 2012

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