Standard Rules for a Cold

Alright, singers; time for a self-evaluation!

I just got over a horrid cold that had me on my back for nearly 2 weeks. Near the very end of it, I found a pamphlet on vocal hygiene from Lakeshore Ear, Nose and Throat Center…2 weeks too late, I figured. So I thought it would be good for me to see if I followed the “Standard Rules for a Cold” listed inside:

  1. Get plenty of rest….Check. The recliner was my base camp.
  2. Speak as little as possible. Do not sing if possible….Check. Some days I could hardly make a sound anyway, so singing was right out.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids (water). This reduces fever, avoids vocal fold dehydration and makes the mucous secretions thinner….I could have done better with this: more clear fluids, fewer diuretics, less acidity.
  4. Use a cool mist humidifier as needed….Check. Although I still woke up coughing after midnight. I’m not sure if my mister was misty enough.
  5. As your doctor about nasal care….Did this maybe a little too late. As a professional singer, I should have seen the doctor on my 3rd day of symptoms (rather than my 10th)  just to rule out anything more sinister and to give me a clearer idea of how to proceed with self-care.
  6. If you need to cough, make it breathy….This was impossible, because my coughing spells were as involuntary and sudden as bad hiccups. Dry or phlegmy, it didn’t matter. I think more hydration would have made a difference.
  7. Guaifenesin (Mucinex, Robitussin) can help thin secretions and formulations with Dextromethorphan (DM) can help suppress cough….Check and check. But they didn’t work as well as I hoped.
  8. Avoid cough drops with menthol….Check. As good as it may feel, menthol has a dehydrating effect in the throat. For me, lemon and honey feel just as good, and to open the airways I dab a couple drops of eucalyptus oil right under my nose.

I give myself a C+.

Plus, I’d say it’s better to get sick now than later in the year, when the roads are actually driveable in Michigan and we’re not cowering from the winter storms.

What’s your score?

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