Speed-Heal a Cough
November 25, 2017 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I went to bed last night with a slight sore throat and woke up this morning with a cough. I'm due to see my family tomorrow for our post-Thanksgiving gathering. Help me shake this fast so I can make it.

The cough is the one and only symptom I have. I'm pretty sure this isn't a full-on cold - if so, it's a very mild one, since the cough is my one and only symptom, and is intermittent. I am actually suspecting it has more to do with the heat in my apartment coming on and drying my sinuses out overnight - I'm sensitive to that, and it usually takes a day or two of sleeping with a humidifier to calm that down each year. (It's hitting me a little worse this year because I work in a small office where a co-worker has a space heater.)

I'm spending the entire day locked in my room with the humidifier going and taking mucinex, but I want to be sure I can clear this thing up before I get on a train at 8 am tomorrow. Any tips?
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Drink lots of water.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 10:37 AM on November 25, 2017

I'm spending the entire day locked in my room with the humidifier going and taking mucinex, but I want to be sure I can clear this thing up before I get on a train at 8 am tomorrow.

Very smart. Don't make your body do anything. The more rest/sleep you get, the better. The humidifier is the cherry on top of recovery.

Going to the kitchen and heating a can of soup is the limit of strenuous activity you should be doing today. Stay down, watch t.v. or read. By tomorrow, you should be good to go. But move as little as possible today.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have found that hot water with lemon, honey, and a touch of cayenne can be incredibly soothing for a sore throat.

And I usually take some Nyquil so I can sleep without being disrupted by my symptoms. Sleep is the best for a cold.
posted by brookeb at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2017

A turkey/vegetable soup made of leftovers and a handful of frozen veg is simmering on the stove as we speak. I'd LIKE to make myself sleep more, but I"m feeling pretty alert; any tips for chilling out are also welcome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on November 25, 2017

in my experience this stuff really works. both my husband and I have used this many times over the years. if it does not prevent your illness from coming on it very likely will reduce severity and duration. in fact, I'm due to take a dose now. I'm 95% on having beat my sore throat thing from becoming a full blown illness.
posted by supermedusa at 10:53 AM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Keep a pot of boiling water on the stove all day; I like to add mulling spices so it makes the house smell nice while soothing my throat. Second drinking honey+lemon+cayenne+hot water.
posted by gatorae at 11:05 AM on November 25, 2017

I like this for pesky coughs. I usually mix a bit with some hot water and just drink it down.
posted by astapasta24 at 11:07 AM on November 25, 2017

The drug store will have a cough syrup that is ONLY for cough. So you can avoid taking a decongestant. Whoever is making the drug store run can also get you a nasal saline spray. Not afrin, just saline. This will moisturize your sinuses. If you have a Neti pot, you can use that instead.

Pick whatever throat lozenge you like, and also make some jello. Have a good gargle with warm salt water, and floss your teeth.

I really like meditation oasis, which is available in the podcasts. They’re generally under 25 minutes and they are guided, each with a different theme but always the same woman’s voice. Sometimes I fall right asleep while listening.

If you’ll be napping, put the water on the steam radiators in stable bowls or pans. Do not boil water if you have any chance of falling asleep. Being in a bed means no boiling.

Moisturize your skin with your favorite lotion.
posted by bilabial at 11:19 AM on November 25, 2017

When I have a lot of sinus drainage that starts trying to move south like that, the one thing I do NOT do is lay down. Humidifier and Netflix yes, but stay propped up if not in a chair, and sleep propped up. It doesn't make for a fabulous night's sleep, and you have to balance the angle of your elevation versus the ability to get any sleep at all, but the less flat I sleep the less likely I am to wake up with serious chest congestion.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Sore throat and a cough could just be post nasal drip- maybe try a remedy for that?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2017

Try to sleep for 10 hours. That'll nip it for sure.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yes to rest, hydration and steam. Hot baths are good. Gingery, peppery or spicy food will help flush any lurking grotesquery out of your mucous membranes.

Avoiding alcohol (which swells the vocal cords) and dairy products (which increase mucus production) can also help.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:09 PM on November 25, 2017

For general chilling advice:

-Animal Crossing Pocket Camp
-Books, books, books
posted by cooker girl at 12:33 PM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

also for general chilling advice, podcasts and audiobooks.
posted by cgg at 12:38 PM on November 25, 2017

My doctor recommended zinc cough drop pastilles that had to come from a pharmacist. I also needed to take Panadol for the accompanying fever and cough syrup to reduce the inflammation and a drowsy histamine at night to prevent night coughing worsening it. Basically to stop the coughing from the viral sore throat from breaking the skin of the throat and letting in an actual bacterial infection get a foothold as a result.

I napped the past two days and went through a season of Voyager, hot tea and took extra hot showers 2-3 times a day. Usually I wind up with bronchitis or pneumonia. Today I feel actually close to human instead.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2017

I've been feeling successful about recent attempts to stave off colds with Vitamin D supplements. It could be placebo effect, but the evidence does look pretty good, it certainly feels like it works, and there are no potential negative impacts that I'm aware of.
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:41 PM on November 25, 2017

Ever since I read that honey was just as effective as cough drops I've gone that route when I am at home. Also honey is delicious. So a win.

I treat coughs very aggressively because I am prone to bad coughing colds and residual cough, the kind caused by irritation from coughing itself, can linger for me for a long a time. Basically, this involves doing everything I can to avoid coughing - avoid the triggers and immediately suppress with something. I run two humidifiers over the winter in my small apartment and sometimes sleep with a wet facecloth on my head to increase the local humidity if I have sinus problems.

I also find eating a lot less helps with post-nasal drip for some reason.

Also a bit of alcohol seems to calm the spasms.
posted by srboisvert at 2:44 PM on November 25, 2017

I'm pretty sure this isn't a full-on cold - if so, it's a very mild one, since the cough is my one and only symptom, and is intermittent.

Colds are contagious for, from what I've been told, roughly 72 hours with adults. I'd encourage checking to see if anybody you're about to see tomorrow has a compromised immune system, is elderly or in poor health in other respects, or for some reason would be seriously impacted by getting sick just now, and making a call about whether you go not just based on whether you feel marginally better in the morning but how this might impact other people. If everybody's pretty healthy and cool with you coming, great! Just--ask, don't assume, and seriously consider not traveling via public transit.
posted by Sequence at 3:31 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Welp, Mom found out what was going on and just ordered me to stay home and not risk it. Which is probably best - I have made progress, but better safe than sorry. (Also I stubbed my toe pretty bad at some point today and have been limping around for a couple hours, so that'd be two reasons to be physically miserable.)

Am still going to apply these techniques to just get better overall, but looks like I'm staying home anyway regardless. Thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:57 PM on November 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a completely off-the-wall suggestion, and I realise you decided to stay home already, but I wanted to offer it in case it helps someone else. My whole life, I have suffered from getting persistent hacking dry coughs whenever I get a cold. After I moved to Hong Kong and was having a go round of this, a friend gave me a bottle of 京都念慈菴川貝枇杷膏 or Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. It isn't a miracle cure, but it really works for me to soothe coughs so I can make it through movies, dinners, etc. when I don't have any other symptoms but the cough won't go away. I've recommended it to friends in the west, and they have been able to find it in Asian markets or online. Wikipedia tells you about it here. Feel better soon!
posted by frumiousb at 4:43 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I actually have been looking for something that can replace Buckley's Mixture syrup, which we used to be able to get in the US but can't any more. It tasted like yeti semen, but it kicked coughs in the ass, yo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:53 PM on November 25, 2017

I usually do a course of zinc lozenges, drink some decaf tea, take a Benadryl and sleep for 9-10h. The zinc has pretty weak evidence honestly (and don't do the sprays, risk of anosmia) but it's a little better than a lot of the placebos out there iirc. But the sleep is the important part; the Benadryl is just there for an extra nudge into dreamland.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:35 AM on November 26, 2017

Here's a new trick I learned from a friend, and it's actually kind of magic.

1. Thickly apply Vicks VapoRub (or tiger balm or some such) to soles of feet.
2. Put on thick socks
3. Go (back) to bed.

For me it's been a game-changer. Try it!
posted by redpajamas at 3:58 AM on November 27, 2017

Right - I am starting to mend, I have ordered some Buckley's from Amazon, and dinner tonight was takeout Thai with Larb salad (super spicy) and that's helped with shifting things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:12 PM on November 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

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