I gotta gold
November 18, 2023 7:58 PM   Subscribe

I am going to read/perform this Tuesday night, yeay! I got smacked pretty good with a cold a couple days ago. Boo!

I got a cold, starting Thursday with a cough/croaky voice and morphed into runny nose and that stuffed/dazed feeling.

I'd like any of your homemade remedies or otherwise to coat my throat and relieve the stuffiness. I'm taking Vicks Cold & Flu gel capsules but can't tell that they're doing much. Also Sudafed which I have to be very careful with as it seems to tend me toward mania.

I have waited for a year for this gig and have no intents of giving it up.

Also, I have all my shots so it's probably not Covid. (I still wear a mask in most places, ten people or more. I will wear one while reading, if necessary, for my audience's sake)
posted by intrepid_simpleton to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
Also, I have all my shots so it's probably not Covid.

This isn't a safe bet. Vaccines provide much better protection against severe infection than against getting infected at all. Currently, I believe the estimate is that they are around 40% effective against infection. You can absolutely have all your shots and still get infected and spread it to folks who may not be up to date on their vaccines, may be at greater risk of severe disease, or may not be able to be vaccinated at all. Please get yourself tested.
posted by pullayup at 8:21 PM on November 18 [16 favorites]

posted by mezzanayne at 8:33 PM on November 18

Seconding getting tested for COVID.

Are you taking Sudafed PE? If so, it's not really doing anything for you. I actually get more relief taking Mucinex and using VapoRub than other OTC meds.
posted by cooker girl at 9:07 PM on November 18 [2 favorites]

My all-purpose ick drink is: get a good inch or so of fresh ginger, peel and slice it and simmer it in a small pot for 10-20 minutes. If you can get fresh turmeric, do the same with it. If you can't get fresh turmeric put a generous amount (couple teaspoons, maybe?) of powdered turmeric in with the ginger. If you like pepper spiciness as well, add a dash or so of cayenne.

When it's done simmering add honey and fresh lemon juice to taste. If it's not too strong, you can drink it straight, if it's a bit much, dilute with hot water or hot tea. I will often make it very strong and keep it in the fridge for a few days, using it like a concentrate.

Gargle with salt water for your throat. Throat lozenges might help, too (I like Ricola and Sambucol, myself, but Fisherman's Friend might help with the congestion). Keep warm, hydrated, and well-rested, and yes, get a COVID test.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:31 PM on November 18 [5 favorites]

I just screenshotted my friend who has a cold recommending this nasal spray.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:15 PM on November 18 [1 favorite]

Chiming in to nth this: being vaccinated is not even considered protection against getting Covid anymore, it just reduces your. chance of being hospitalized or worse for most people. Many Covid cases these days present as a basic cold. BUT even if your Covid is mild, you can still give Covid to someone else who very well might develop serious or long Covid. People (because let's remember: people include elderly and immunocompromised people! We in this group also are people!) are still dying from Covid at a higher daily rate than from car accidents. Please do get a drugstore test before singing into a room if you have Covid symptoms, which include runny nose, cough and other cold symptoms.
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 12:12 AM on November 19 [8 favorites]

Drinking masses and masses of hot liquids, drunk as hot as I can stand to swallow, repeatedly reheating in the micro as necessary seems to make a big difference to me. I figure it's like putting a hot compress on a sprain - the heat increases circulation and enables the tissue to do whatever repairs it needs to a little bit faster.

Good luck with the reading!

If you do have to cancel is there any way you could swap your spot with someone who has a slot sometime next month?
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:40 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]

Professional voice user here. To start, I’ll quote from an earlier post of mine on this subject.
The real answer is that the only thing that works is rest, fluids and time. Most colds resolve within 4-7 days on their own.

If you have very thick phlegm, take very large doses of guaifenesin (not the kind with a cough suppressant or decongestant) and drink a lot of water to thin your mucous. If you feel like you’re straining your voice, stop talking and take NSAIDs to bring town swelling in your vocal folds. These things won’t help the cold resolve any faster, but they will help control some of the symptoms.
This is something every professional voice user has to deal with from time to time, and I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Let us follow tradition and start with the bad news first…

The bad news is that homemade remedies aren’t gonna do jack shit to help you. There is nothing you can do and nothing you can take that will make you get over the infection any faster. It’s gonna take the time it takes, which for colds is an average of seven to ten days for complete resolution—although symptoms can become relatively mild in as soon as five or six days. Now I’m sure plenty of people in this thread will offer their surefire remedies of honey and ginger, turmeric, spicy soup, megadoses of zinc and/or vitamin C, echinacea and valerian extracts, oscillococcinum and so on. These and countless other things have been tested exhaustively and they show no particular benefit of any magnitude that would be helpful. Rest and plenty of fluids, which really just help your body do what it’s gonna do anyway, is about it.

The good news, however, is that there are some things you can do to mitigate symptoms that will help enable you to perform even when you have an active cold infection. Generally speaking, the three main things that interfere with voice use when you have a cold are nasal/sinus/chest congestion, thick phlegm in the vocal tract and swelling/edema of the vocal folds. Nasal congestion can be treated with pseudoephedrine (the real kind sold over the counter with restrictions), and the very judicious use of nasal sprays. Chest congestion and thick phlegm in general can be treated by megadosing with guaifenesin (it’s impossible to overdose on this stuff, so triple the max dose suggestions) and drink a lot of water. Guaifenesin is a mucous thinner—just be careful to buy the kind without an added decongestant, cough suppressant or anything like that. Swelling of the vocal folds can be treated by taking NSAIDs throughout the day, or with prednisone. Edema in the vocal folds is treated with prednisone. Strict vocal rest will also help your voice recover, even if only by preventing any further abuse.

Depending on the nature of your upcoming voice use, the foregoing could suffice. For operatic singers who might lose a significant paycheck—we don’t get paid unless we perform—it’s not unusual to go straight to a laryngologist for an examination and, usually, prednisone. You should definitely hit up a laryngologist on Monday if your voice is still too croaky for effective reading aloud.

Oh, and to echo those above, take a damn Covid test. What are you waiting for?

Good luck! Feel free to memail me if you have and specific questions or issues.
posted by slkinsey at 6:17 AM on November 19 [6 favorites]

the otc cold medicines from behind the pharmacy counter make me feel pretty superhuman- my faves are aleve cold & sinus (formerly Aleve-D) or just straight up Sudafed (not sudafed PE which is useless)
posted by wowenthusiast at 6:48 AM on November 19 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: *blinks* *gives work hours for today away* *off to drugstore for test*
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 7:23 AM on November 19 [7 favorites]

When I'm sick, I drink lots of hot water with lemon juice and honey. During the day I might take an OTC cold medicine, but sometimes they make me feel loopy so I'll just take ibuprofen to help my throat. I'll also do a OTC saline nasal spray to help with congestion. Then, at night I take NyQuil to knock me out so I can sleep, because sleep seems to be the most important thing.

Feel better soon!
posted by I_carried_a_watermelon at 8:49 AM on November 19

Since it can take 2-5 days, and sometimes longer, before a new COVID infection results in a viral load large enough to show up on a home antigen test, even with symptoms, please also test yourself on Tuesday morning or afternoon before attending this public event where you and many other people will be unmasked. Here's a good article about that, with citations to studies:

“Our study showed that when someone first develops symptoms of COVID-19, the viral load can be low enough that it is not reliably detected by a home test, and that the viral load would be most likely to generate a positive home test around the fourth day of symptoms,” Frediani said.

This isn’t the first research to suggest that at-home tests don’t work as well when symptoms first emerge. A 2022 paper published in JAMA Internal Medicine drew similar conclusions. The authors of that report also found that the rate of positive antigen tests peaked four days after illness onset...

When in doubt, experts recommend erring on the side of caution. “The majority of respiratory illness is spread from person to person,” Javaid said, “so we should be careful when we have respiratory illness.”

4 days from Thursday would be Monday, so be sure to at least test yourself with a home antigen test then. I'd also do Tuesday.
posted by mediareport at 8:52 AM on November 19 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, the ol' hive-mind was right. I would have never thought of it myself (obviously). Took the test, twice. Both were red as can be (positive). To refresh the collective memory, the symptoms started Thursday.

Stopped in at an urgent care, masked of course, and told them I had Covid. The PA did all the stuff they do, pronounced my lungs clear, and told me to go home and rest and drink water.

Technically I could read Tuesday (masked), but I'm not taking that chance. I'm heartbroken, but such is life.

When I spoke to the host, he said, "I don't want to be killed by poetry." He's a frail little man who spent some time in the hospital.
posted by intrepid_simpleton at 4:44 PM on November 19 [12 favorites]

Rest well; hope you heal up soon.

Technically I could read Tuesday (masked)

FWIW, according to the CDC the date of symptom onset counts as Day 0 (Thursday in your case) and the 5 days of isolation starts the next day with day 1 (Friday), which means your day 6 after 5 full days of isolation would be Wednesday, not Tuesday.

When you have COVID-19, isolation is counted in days, as follows:

If you had symptoms:
Day 0 of isolation is the day of symptom onset, regardless of when you tested positive
Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

There's other info at that page you might find useful as well.
posted by mediareport at 5:40 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]

I am so sorry about your reading. But thank you profoundly for taking the test after reading these answers and making the right decision to protect others. It's very good to be reminded that there are such responsible folks among us.
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 1:05 AM on November 20 [5 favorites]

(And in case that answer above is not clear: when I said responsible folk among us I was referring to OP, for taking the test and postponing their event. )
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 5:45 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

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