I'm hearing from so many singers that their cold, flu or worse Covid left them with a stubborn cough this season. I myself struggled with coughing for over three months this fall after catching the common cold and later the flu and despite not having experienced any sore throat whatsoever and only little congestion during both instances. When I saw a doctor at the walk-in clinic about the lasting cough, he prescribed a corticosteroid inhaler. But it didn't do anything. I made an appointment with my family doctor a few weeks later. She thought corticosteroid in the form of a nasal spray might be more effective. Instead, I woke about 5 hours after using it the first time with a full-on ear infection in both of my ears. Needless to say, it was super painful. It took nearly a month and a half before I fully recovered my hearing. "It's just viral" they said. "You just have to wait it out" they said. Of course I got some antibiotics for the ear infection but the coughing continued even after I was done with them.
What I mentioned to both doctors I saw is that the coughing seemed to become aggravated after my meals. It was easy to notice this pattern because I practice intermittent fasting. I have my first meal after 1:30pm and usually no more food past 7pm. Because my coughing started after I took over-the-counter medication and was noticeably worse after eating, I wondered if the meds had disrupted my digestive system and pH balance. Both doctors I saw quickly dismissed my hypothesis. But my "inner doctor" knows what it knows and I continue to believe that I was right and they were wrong!
Could this be happening to you too? Do you have the following symptoms:
-tickling at the very bottom of the larynx.
-reoccurring phlegm (frog in the throat).
-wet or dry cough
-feeling of bubbling or steam frying the bottom of the larynx and/or vocal cords.
-muscles spasms at the bottom of the larynx during deep breathing, talking and singing.
Does it sound like you? If so, see if what worked for me will work for you too.
Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a doctor nor am I a health specialist. This recommendation is solely based on my own experience, research and personal conclusions. Always consult your doctor or health provider before trying new supplements, medication or natural products that may or may not interfere with your current health condition or other medication you are on.
1) Ginger Supplements
While researching whether I could be suffering from acid reflux or low stomach acid triggering the cough, I read that ginger supplements were really helpful to stabilize digestion. I was getting immediate results from taking a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in water before my meals but if I skipped it, the coughing returned just as bad as before. I worried that taking so much organic apple cider vinegar would damage my teeth enamel. It was therefore a relief to read that ginger could potentially solve the problem. And it did! Not only did the frequency coughing greatly diminish when taking two capsules of Nature's Way ginger supplements with my meals but so did the intensity..
2) St-Francis Elderberry Syrup
A couple of weeks after I started the ginger supplement regiment, I met with my naturopath and told her about my troubles. She highly recommended the St-Francis Elderberry Syrup. It turned out to be an excellent expectorant. I was already seeing great improvement with the ginger supplement but a teaspoon of Elderberry syrup after my meals has definitely been complimentary at adding a touch of effectiveness.
3) Traditional Medicinal Throat Coat Tea
It is the the combination of liquorice and marshmallow roots and slippery elm bark that brings the soothing and healing properties of this tea. I've known about it for years but rarely bought it because I don't like its taste. Since many singers I know, as well as my naturopath, agree that it does a fantastic job coating the throat, I gave it another chance. As we say in French "aux grands maux, les grands moyens" (to great evils great means!)
To rid my system of any remnants of the cold and flu and to prevent catching yet another one, I started making garlic supplements part of my daily diet. The brand I buy, Natural Factors' Garlic, has 8 garlic cloves per softgels so I only take one a day. Make sure to buy a brand with the active ingredient of allicin.
Finally, to give the immune system a boost and prevent inflammation and other digestive troubles, probiotics are a must. They will surely speed up your recovery and prevent the cough to keep aggravating. A brand I recommend is Cyto-Matrix Multi-Strain 11.
What I have found to be true, is that it is a combination of strategies that will completely eliminate the cough. I only started seeing results when I did all of those things together and consistently every day. The change wasn't overnight (be patient) but the improvement was still very noticeable. I am now keeping a full supply of ginger supplements, elderberry syrup, and Throat Coat Tea in order to treat my next cough immediately upon being triggered. I am also continuing the daily garlic and probiotic regiment until the cold season is over. If I'm lucky, I won't get sick again!
On the other hand, if your throat often feels dry and if you often feel a tickle in your throat or catch yourself coughing out of the blue during singing, this is a sign of strain. Don't ignore it and seek expert advice to correct your vocal technique. This is what I specialize in: removing tension to beautify your tone, extend range and maximize projection.
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I can't wait to meet you, high-achievers singers and the likes!