Caught COVID, need suggestions on how to help my sore throat.
March 30, 2022 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Unfortunately, after two years, the rona finally found me. Am quarantining the requite 5ish days, have to cancel my upcoming birthday weekend, am miserable about that (terrible timing). Silver lining—am not in the hospital. My throat is very scratchy/sore, however. What should I use to help soothe it?

Feeling fortunate to be vaccinated/boosted. I have a runny nose, which subsided somewhat since last night, but I've had some very deep coughs (that was a bit scary) overnight, and my throat is seriously scratchy and sore. I've tried NyQuil, DayQuil, lemon tea, and chicken soup, but it doesn't really seem to help much. It seems worse overnight (probably because it's dried up in general). I've also been stocking up on elderberries and Vitamin C tablets to help me heal.

I'm fortunate to live at an apartment community that's right above a large CVS, so if need be, can double mask, run in, get what I need, and self-checkout during non-peak hours. Would you suggest anything specifically for my sore and scratchy throat? Something to "hug" it overnight and keep it moist, and make the scratchiness go away?

Bonus question: had violent chills the first two nights, but not the third. Anything I should drink to keep those chills away? Perhaps Gatorade?

Thanks! Here's to healing.
posted by dubious_dude to Health & Fitness (33 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Would a slight bit of honey help? Though you may have to order from Amazon Fresh (if available).

If you're near any Chinatowns or Asian grocery I'd try Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, a TCM herbal remedy, as a super-thick syrup great for sore throats. The trick is NOT to swallow it quickly, but leave it in your mouth so it slowly "soaks" your throat.
posted by kschang at 9:40 AM on March 30, 2022 [7 favorites]

if you can stand it without gagging, gargling deep in your throat with warm salt water really helps a sore throat.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:40 AM on March 30, 2022 [21 favorites]

Did your cough syrup contain acetaminophen (Tylenol)? If not that will help with the sore throat & the chills too. (If your cough syrup does contain Tylenol, don't take any extra). Also, if you can manage it, it's better to ask the pharmacist in the CVS what you should get rather than the internet for this kind of thing. When I was working at a pharmacy the pharmacist took these kind of calls all the time, it's part of their job)
posted by bleep at 9:45 AM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

I’d get a humidifier for your bedroom - it will help keep the dry air from irritating your through overnight. I’ve also heard good thing about steam inhalers - here’s an example of the type I mean.
posted by maleficent at 9:48 AM on March 30, 2022 [14 favorites]

Chloraseptic spray.
Cepacol lozenges.
Wedderspoon Manuka Honey Ginger Lozenges (red box)
These are all at your local CVS
Hope you feel better soon!
posted by mmf at 9:48 AM on March 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

I sang operatically in college and when my throat was really bad I would get a massive bag of ricola honey lemon cough drops. Also seconding adding a strong dollop of honey to your tea. Take a long steamy shower before bed and run a humidifier on full blast all night. Basically, pamper yourself.
posted by donut_princess at 9:51 AM on March 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

I find it helpful to gargle with soluble aspirin - has a topical affect as well as systemic
posted by rd45 at 9:55 AM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Lots of useful advice so far. What's not clear is how bad your throat really is.

The worst sore throat I ever had (flu related) didn't respond to anything until I finally tried some zinc lozenges on a doctor's recommendation.

Specifically, Jamieson Zinc Lozenges with vitamins C+D.
posted by philip-random at 9:56 AM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I don't know if CVS will have it, but Throat Coat Tea is super helpful for this. Alternatively, make a green tea with honey and lemon. Add some ginger in there as well.

Seconding Ricola - they're really unmatched in terms of cough drops. Those are the only ones that actually help me.
posted by hydra77 at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

Have you already tried ibuprofen? It doesn't work for me for MOST things, but to my shock it often does for sore throats.
posted by metasarah at 10:10 AM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

gargling deep in your throat with warm salt water

Seconding steamy showers, humidifiers, and this; it tastes vile but it really helps, especially done a few times a day (when I'm sick, I usually do it 2-3 times a day before brushing teeth). I also sip chamomile tea or plain hot water, as warm as I can stand it without it burning me, and hold it in the back of my throat before swallowing so that most of the heat goes to the inflamed area. Slippery elm lozenges are also very soothing if you don't mind the taste, but I use those more often for vocal strain than for illness.

I also eat as many fruit & yogurt popsicles as I want when I'm sick, but that's mostly because they're delicious. Hope you feel better soon!
posted by notquitemaryann at 10:11 AM on March 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

For comfort, nothing beats honey & lemon juice in hot water. Drink as needed. Add powdered ginger if desired.

For serious pain & coughing, Tessalon Perles are pretty magical but I think they require a prescription.

(Hang in there: I also got COVID after two years of dodging it. Maaaan, was I pissed.)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:11 AM on March 30, 2022 [7 favorites]

Why are you not taking any pain meds / analgesics? Definitely do get/take some Tylenol.

Also, yes, a humidifier. I strongly recommend a steam humidifier, otherwise, eventually, you risk mold, plus the moisture sometimes accumulates near cool mist humidifiers on the floor or table.

Ask a favor, make a friend: please call someone you barely know and get them to bring you some Tylenol, Advil, or similar. It will help.
posted by amtho at 10:14 AM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Yes, please don't double-mask and go into the CVS while being positive. Call them. Tell them your situation. Bet that they have someone who would rather bring it upstairs to you, than to have you come into the store...
posted by Windopaene at 10:17 AM on March 30, 2022 [38 favorites]

Tessalon Perles
So glad you mentioned these, couldn't remember the name but they literally saved me during lengthy bouts of bronchitis.
posted by notquitemaryann at 10:18 AM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Gargling with warm salt water with 1/2 tsp of ground turmeric can help, turmeric is an anti inflammatory and anti bacterial. It's got a pleasant aftertaste, too.
Elevate sleeping with back pillows, in case your sore throat is also from nasal drip/swallowing during sleep.
Best of luck, I hope you feel better soon.
posted by winesong at 10:19 AM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Slightly off-topic, but someone's suggested calling to speak to the pharmacist - that would also have the advantage that you can ask them how they'd like you to take receipt of whatever they recommend. Depending on their set-up, maybe one of the staff would rather come and put the goods down for you outside, rather than have you coming into the store with known covid, however well-masked. Or if it means they get to avoid infection, maybe they'd even take payment over the phone and run it up to you and leave it outside your door, if you're right upstairs.

Just going by the way my small local pharmacy has been operating - strictly 2 customers max inside, but they'll sometimes come and serve other people at the door where there's fresh air, if a queue builds up.

I bet they'd love the option to avoid catching it - please at least give them that option rather than just going into the store.
posted by penguin pie at 10:19 AM on March 30, 2022 [16 favorites]

Also, if you're in the first 5 days of symptoms, have you called your doctor to make sure you're not eligible for anti-viral medication? I'm also just finishing my COVID isolation -- the anti-viral medication was the only thing that actually helped me.
posted by shadygrove at 10:23 AM on March 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

Just recovering from my own 'rona bout here. I have to say, I ran the gamut of meds and found that very few of them actually did much of anything to be honest. A salt water gargle and a spoonful of honey did help my throat on the worst days. Ibuprofen was the only thing that could touch the other aches, including the soreness from the deep cough. Take two at a time. Take them as often as the label will let you -- it's much worse if the meds have to play catch up once your symptoms have rebounded.

The chills come from fever, so if your fever is gone there's nothing more you need to do to prevent them. If you're still getting them, taking anything with ibuprofen or acetaminophen should help knock down your fever.

I was isolating with my (also positive) partner, and he just always has a humidifier running so I couldn't say whether that helped specifically--I am sure it didn't hurt.

I'm kind of a sicky in normal times so I'm just used to feeling crap a bunch, but it was really hard on my normally-robust partner. So sorry you are dealing with this!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:25 AM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

If the CVS stocks "Fisherman's Friends" lozenges (they are usually in small white paper packets), see if you can get some. I've found them extremely helpful for non-COVID sore throats- and they work better for me than Ricola, Cepacol, etc, though of course those can help too.

They are a bit hard to find in stores though so it may not be possible to get them easily, but just in case they do have them...
posted by BungaDunga at 10:26 AM on March 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry about your birthday weekend. Also, I too am dealing with the corona, and I asked our government website this: their recommendation is to stay upright as much as possible. Lying down makes you cough and strains your throat. They also suggested taking a small walk outdoors if possible without putting others at risk, and I did, and it was a relief, though it passed as soon as I returned to my apartment.
After reading this thread, I also took an ibuprofen, and yes, it seems to have helped, though I am doing so many things at once that I don't really know what helps and what doesn't. Though, I started the day with tea and honey, and I'm pretty certain it did nothing at all. My daughter made a batch of ginger-lemon shots for me, and I haven't tried it yet because I'm a bit scared it'll make things worse. But since she made it, I'll have to try and if it is the miracle cure, I'll get back.
I'm drinking a glass of vermouth now, and it seems very soothing, though I can't taste anything. So I recommend that. Vermouths were originally made as medicinal herbal cures.
posted by mumimor at 10:43 AM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Nthing saltwater gargle. It needs to be just this side of hot water, and so salty it’s just this side of gross. I try to gargle the alphabet to give it enough time to do its job. Also, swap to a new toothbrush and thoroughly brush your teeth, gums, and tongue a few extra times a day. You don’t have to use a ton of toothpaste or brush hard, just enough to get your mouth clean. When we’re coughing and hacking up a lung (hopefully not really in your case!) our sensitive tissues can get torn up and exposing that to the bacteria inside our mouths leads to reinfection and prolonging the symptoms, so keeping your mouth clean can help prevent this. And it can just feel kind of nice, honestly.

Humidifiers are helpful but you don’t absolutely need one if you don’t have it - I’d much rather you stay home than show up with active positive rona at your drug store to buy a humidifier and an industrial bag of lozenges. Take steamy showers, and you can even let a big pot of water simmer away on your stove. Stick lemon slices in there and make your place smell nice, assuming you can, you know, smell anything.

You might feel a bit better if you can sleep at a gentle incline. Make a pillow wedge to support you all across the width of your bed, folding up extra blankets and towels if you need to for structure and layering pillows on top. This will help your nasal drip and keep stuff going generally in the right direction when you’re asleep, and might prevent some snoring which can exacerbate throat soreness.

If your fever has stayed down you probably won’t get chills again. If you do, take something to help lower your fever, and don’t worry about the chills specifically. They suck, but are just a symptom of something we have effective drugs for.

I hope you feel better soon and with no long term effects. Please stay home and splurge for delivery, ask acquaintances for favors and don’t make important decisions for a little while.
posted by Mizu at 10:45 AM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

You probably already know this, but the various Quils have Tylenol in them, so make sure you're not taking any extra if you're taking that.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:29 AM on March 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

To make your pain and inflammation management really work, you do need to take it on the cadence described on the bottle and don't lose the momentum or the pain gets ahead of the pain management. Doctors and pharmacists will advise you can switch back and forth between ibuprofen and acetaminophen (advil and tylenol) as they are processed in the kidneys and liver respectively, as a way to offset the load on either one, but also a lot of people find they get better pain relief from switching back and forth as well. And obviously you should get those instructions from your doctor (who may also advise prescription dosages rather than OTC as well, depending on your medical history).
posted by Lyn Never at 11:47 AM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

In the US, DoorDash, Instacart and Shipt offer contactless, doorstep delivery from grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.
posted by blue suede stockings at 12:36 PM on March 30, 2022 [9 favorites]

Keep a nice warm scarf around your neck to keep your throat warm and help body fluids do their thing. Feel better soon.
posted by effluvia at 12:54 PM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you're near any Chinatowns or Asian grocery I'd try Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa

This stuff is amazing - we call it "hot drink" in my household and have been using it since my brother and I were kids (this led to my boyfriend going into Chinatown to get some for me when I was sick and asking the clerk for "hot drink", though surprisingly she knew what he meant!). We mix a heaping tablespoon of the syrup in a mug of hot water and drink it like a tea. It's super soothing for sore throats and coughs. Amazon also sells it now if you don't have someone to get it for you. Friends have described it as tasting like blueberry candy canes.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:49 PM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Seconding Lyn Never's description of alternating ibuprofen and acetaminophen. That alternation has saved me from misery multiple times in the past.

For sore throat I drink hot tea - as hot I can comfortably drink - sweetened with an obscene amount of sugar. I have a sweet tooth the size of Denali, and this is still too sweet. But it sure helps the throat.
posted by wjm at 3:15 PM on March 30, 2022

Response by poster: Upon the suggestion of mmf, I was able to get a hold of Wedderspoon Manuka honey lemon cough drops — my first time trying this. Quite expensive, but a treat/splurge, considering what I'm going through. OMG, the first drop was... incredible. I could taste honey inside the cough drops. Definitely a far cry from the chemically ones that are CVS generic.

I'll follow the other suggestions as well — salt water gargle, shower, bath, wear a warm scarf around my head overnight, and add a touch of honey to everything. Unfortunately I don't have a humidifier, but that'd definitely be a good long-term solution if necessary.

What's not clear is how bad your throat really is.
Not sure exactly how to explain or quantify it; just very scratchy, uncomfortable, a bit painful to swallow, 'stiff' especially in the morning, and just a whole big round of "BLAH". Not direly severe, but definitely not your run-of-the-mill mild sore throat, either. I checked for any white spots to indicate if it was strep in case, but doesn't look like it so far.
posted by dubious_dude at 4:57 PM on March 30, 2022

I have not (AFAIK) had covid, but for me lozenges with benzocaine (anesthetic) are the best thing for sore throats. They were a game changer. Cepacol and Chloraseptic make them but I'm not sure every lozenge they make has it so check the ingredients.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:17 PM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

For some immediate humidity, you can boil a big pot of water on the stove. We do this in the winter and I find it really helps when I have a dry or scratchy throat. Feel better soon!
posted by sucre at 5:49 PM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for throat coat tea, look for the type that has slippery elm as an ingredient. There are other versions without it which are nowhere near as effective.
posted by maudlin at 7:25 PM on March 30, 2022

Ibuprofen and throat coat tea. Preferably Traditional Medicinals, not the throat comfort tea from Yogi Tea.
posted by stormyteal at 9:00 PM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

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