How to temporarily get rid of cough for date?
September 23, 2022 3:40 AM   Subscribe

I have a stubborn post-Covid cough. I also have a first date coming up. How can I eliminate it so that my first impression is not that of a plaguebearer? Bonus points if I can do so in an imperceptible way that does not require me to keep taking things throughout the date.

The date may wind up stretching several hours, so this needs to be able to last. Additionally, should things go well, I would prefer for said cough to not interrupt extracurricular activities, because I could definitely see it putting things off.
posted by sockmeamadeus to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Ask your doc for Tessalon Perles. They work very, very well.
posted by james33 at 4:01 AM on September 23 [8 favorites]

Fair warning and an acknowledgement that if your date is tonight this may not work...unless you live in Canada, in which case you probably already know about this.

There is a Canadian cough syrup called Buckleys Mixture which is hands-down miraculous. They used to sell it in the US as well, and during that time it was a pharmacist who introduced me to it when I had a really stubborn and persistent cough and I went to a shop and pleaded with him that "I just want to stop coughing." He recommended that - it's an OTC thing - and I took one dose, and no joke, my cough finally stopped only ten minutes later. I've kept bottles on hand ever since - I even used it to treat my own CURRENT-covid cough (when I had covid), and it worked just as well - even though I later noticed that the bottle had actually expired six months prior.

There are only two warnings: firstly, this isn't available on the shelves in the US any more, but you can order it on Amazon. It will be $25 a bottle (but it is worth it) and will of course take a few days to get to you. Go for either the "original" or the formula used to target excess mucus; the excess mucus would work especially well for Covid, since that's its own fun feature.

The second warning is - this stuff tastes absolutely god-damn TERRIBLE. Like a combination of pine needles, ground-up mothball and a Vicks' lozenge. They flat-out own it - the company's actual slogan is, "It tastes terrible, but it works." That is exactly what that pharmacist told me when he handed it to me - he pointed at the bottle and said "this is ABSOLUTELY true. BOTH parts." It is probably a testimony to how well it works that I am still enthusiastically recommending something to you that tastes like yeti spooge.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:06 AM on September 23 [22 favorites]

Can confirm that Tessalon Perles are amazing.
posted by HotToddy at 4:13 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Something I have used in the past for a persistent cough (that was caused by post-nasal drip, though I always thought the issue originated in my lungs) was a dose of Afrin, which is available OTC. Lasts me 12 hours and is miraculous. Careful, though, it can be addictive so must be used sparingly. Don't let yourself be lured in by saline sprays, that is not what you want. You want AFRIN -oxymetazoline.
posted by eleslie at 4:14 AM on September 23

Please take an at-home COVID test before your date, to check that you are not still contagious.
posted by carriage pulled by cassowaries at 5:34 AM on September 23 [16 favorites]

Oh my god Buckley's Mixture. In university I had a horrible stubborn cough and was in a play where I had to be onstage for 2 hours without coughing. Words truly cannot describe how bad it tastes. Medicinal and chemical and horribly bitter, overwhelmingly of pine sap, like mothballs candied in a Lysol reduction with a side of Satan's seed. But I took that stuff and did not cough. Nearly died from the taste but not a cough was coughed. Then I literally blocked it out of my memory because I too have a persistent cough right now and have been looking for a solution but my brain partitioned off the experience and simply forgot this stuff even existed until reading EC's comment above.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 5:37 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

Heh; I'm back with another pro-Buckley's anecdote that nouvelle-personne reminded me of. I was working on a play once, and early on in the rehearsals one of our cast was fighting off a case of bronchitis with a really stubborn cough (at one point he coughed so hard he threw his back out). He was on antibiotics, but the cough was still plaguing him - so I brought my Buckley's with me to one rehearsal, and alerted him I had it if he needed it.

About a half hour into rehearsal he came over and asked for it. I gave it to him, warning him it was going to taste really, really bad - but it was going to work really, really well. He chuckled a bit, then disappeared to the dressing room to have a dose.

A couple minutes later, he returned - with a distinctly haunted look on his face. "Wow, you weren't kidding," was all he said. But within 20 minutes - no cough.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:22 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

OP, I also vote for Tessalon Perles, if you can get a script for them in time.

For our Canadian friends: how do Buckley's Lozenges compare to the potent Mixture?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 AM on September 23

FWIW my own post-covid cough was persistent and also any-sort-of-exercise induced and nothing I did really impacted it. I'm jealous of people who were able to get some relief to be honest. If you can't suppress it perfectly, I think it's very fine and normal to say, I had COVID however long ago and of course I have a dumb lingering cough. Assure the person that you are testing to know that you're not contagious, but that this is just a common side effect. A decent person will understand.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:38 AM on September 23 [5 favorites]

My post covid cough responded well to regular (Ricola) cough drops. I was surprised by that and don’t expect my results will be universal but it’s easy to try out if you haven’t already
posted by aubilenon at 6:47 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Fisherman's Friend cough drops. Coughs have different causes; a lingering cough may be like asthma, with inflamed bronchii. Menthol opens up the bronchi. If they don't have Fisherman's Friend, get Hall's or similar, and get the ones with the most menthol.
posted by theora55 at 7:00 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Alcohol can numb your throat for a bit to relieve a cough, but whether it's a good choice for you depends on your alcohol tolerance!
posted by metasarah at 7:17 AM on September 23

Buckley's Lozenges aren't as effective as the syrup, IMHO. As for the taste of the syrup, I have to say that while it's not pleasant, after a while, you build up a tolerance for it, and it's really no big deal. As for how long that "while" is, I suspect it's longer than one cold/illness cycle. The Complete version (I think that's the one) is worse. Hmm, I do see they now have an extra strength dry cough one that I haven't tried yet. I'll have to add it to my shopping list.
posted by sardonyx at 7:26 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Sadly, OP, I suspect that if you've got a COVID-related cough, even Buckley's won't be enough to get you through an entire date (including post-date activities).
posted by sardonyx at 7:27 AM on September 23

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa is a Chinese herbal cough syrup. Very thick, and suppresses cough for a long time. It can be found at many Chinese groceries and (here in Canada) at Walmart and Superstore. Unlike Buckley's, it doesn't taste bad.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:30 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

Seconding Fisherman's Friend. Although I'm absolutely getting some Buckley's, after these ringing endorsements. (Every cold I have turns into a month-long cough. While Fisherman's Friends are pretty gross and don't actually stop the cough long-term, while they're in my mouth, I pretty much don't cough.)
posted by nosila at 8:09 AM on September 23 [1 favorite]

For my current cough I'm enjoying Sour Patch Kids. Do they work? Eh, sort of. Are they pleasant? YES.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:19 AM on September 23 [2 favorites]

I suspect that if you've got a COVID-related cough, even Buckley's won't be enough to get you through an entire date (including post-date activities).

Towards that - I have totally brought along a bottle of Buckley's and a spoon with me on a date if I thought there was a chance a hookup may happen. There are ample opportunities to excuse yourself for a restroom visit so you can "refuel" if you feel like it's wearing off. Slip into a bathroom, have a spoonful of Buckley's, wait 60 seconds until you've stopped making the involuntary "ew" face, and you're good.

(Note that the linked video was AN ACTUAL TELEVISION AD for Buckley's.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 AM on September 23 [3 favorites]

Try experimenting with a nasal rinse/neti pot a day or two before (if you have time) to see if that helps at least temporarily. Maybe suck in some air above a humidifier or over some simmering water on a stove.

I'd also message in advance something like, "Hey there. I'm very much looking forward to seeing you on DAY. I wanted to give you a heads up that I still have a bit of a cough lingering after recovering from Covid. I'm fully recovered (and testing negative) otherwise, but sometimes trying not to cough makes it worse, so I decided to just let you know even though I feel a bit sheepish about it."

(And likely they'll message back saying of course, I had that cough too! Or, it's all good! Etc.)
posted by bluedaisy at 11:20 AM on September 23

Heroin was originally marketed by Bayer as an antitussive, because it's super effective at it and it's "less addictive than morphine."

Barring that, codeine (if you are not a slow metabolizer) works fine too. In Canada, "T1"s (codeine, acetaminophen, caffeine) are available over the counter - you have to ask the pharmacist for it.
posted by porpoise at 11:31 AM on September 23

I can also endorse Fisherman's Friend (though I'm dying to try Buckley's now). A few years back, I had to be in the audience of a show with a wracking, window-rattling cough that just would not quit, and those got me through the event completely silently. I had to have one in my mouth in order not to cough but even just that respite was a godsend.
posted by anderjen at 12:53 PM on September 23

See How to understand cough medicines . tl;dr feel free try dextromethorphan (or pholcodine if you can get it OTC) to suppress an unproductive cough, but the thing that actually works is honey (or any syrup) and mint.
posted by caek at 1:12 PM on September 23 [3 favorites]

Buckle’s website says you can mix your dose with an equal amount of honey
posted by uans at 3:46 PM on September 23

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa is a Chinese herbal cough syrup. Very thick, and suppresses cough for a long time. It can be found at many Chinese groceries and (here in Canada) at Walmart and Superstore. Unlike Buckley's, it doesn't taste bad.

Seconding. The nice thing for me is I can dilute it in warm water and have it as a nice drink when I'm working and I don't want to distract the proceedings and myself.
posted by cendawanita at 5:45 AM on September 24 [1 favorite]

I’d disclose this pre-date if I were you, to avoid awkwardness if it comes up later. I would not think much of rescheduling but I’d lose the number of anyone who concealed something like this from me in the hopes of getting laid. Yikes.
posted by eirias at 10:35 AM on September 24 [2 favorites]

I got Buckley’s mixture! And it wasn’t as bad as I remember. The trick is to stick the spoon way back in your mouth and basically deposit it right at your throat so your tongue has minimal contact with it. Back in the day I sipped it from the bottle (because … university student) which really coats your tongue with the foul stuff. If you can just pop it right down the hatch, it’s still gross, but bearable.
It’s been half an hour and I’ve still coughed a little bit but already it’s lessened.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:16 AM on September 27

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