Sicky McSickster


I feel like crap. Man, this is the season for me to be sick. I just got over a nasty bug a couple of weeks ago.

Ughhhhhh. Send chocolate. No wait, chocolate will feel like sandpaper on my raw throat. I coughed so much last night that I couldn’t sleep. Laying down increased the severity and duration of the coughing. I dozed propped up – almost sitting – until the next series of racking coughs took over. I coughed so much that my abdominal muscles hurt.

One of the thoughts I had last night was “this better not be whooping cough. Damned antivax…” But then I remembered that I participated in a Hug Me I’m Vaccinated pertussis booster clinic at DragonCon a couple of years ago and I felt better (well, 70% better as the current estimate is that Tdap protects 7 out of 10 who receive it. Don’t get me wrong, that’s decent, and I’ll take it, especially as we’re experiencing an increase in outbreaks this year.).

Fuck it. Send chocolate anyway. I’ll save it for later.

What are your favorite remedies for sore throats/coughing? And remember, a lot of you are skeptics, so I don’t want to see any colloidal silver, or echinacea down there in the comments, kay? And I don’t have to mention homeopathy, right? RIGHT? Anything that involves whiskey gets extra notice.

Ice cubes. Ice cubes sound good right now.


  1. ljbriar says

    Sorry, I’m basing this on what I used to do back when I sang competitively, not based on any scientific studies or anything, but right before competition, I ALWAYS got a sore throat and lost my voice, always. Green tea (not TOO heavily steeped) with honey usually worked for me. And there’s the good old gargling with salt water.

    And if none of that works, ice cream laced with drugs and passing out on the couch to a Batman marathon at least takes your mind off it.

    • says

      I’ve got the honey in black tea now – no green tea in the house. And I’m going with Buffy instead of Batman, but I think we’re on the same wavelength with this remedy!

  2. says

    By the way, I always keep a jar of the shitty pre-made apple sauce in my fridge in case I drink too much or have a flu. If you’re ever throwing up (this is an important life-secret I am about to divulge here) eat applesauce. Why? It’s the one food that tastes more or less the same coming back up as it does going down. And the pectin in it coats your throat and seems to buffer the stomach acids. No more dry heaves!

    • says

      It’s the one food that tastes more or less the same coming back up as it does going down.

      Woah…this may be the most genius thing I’ve read all day. I need to start stocking applesauce in my kitchen.

  3. says

    I use this more for stomach and sinus stuff but I think it would be soothing for throat and cough also:

    I take a couple of chunks of ginger and boil it in water to make a strong ginger tea (10 to 20 minutes depending on how much ginger you use to water) and drink it when it’s pretty hot. I think you could definitely improve it with a shot of whiskey.

  4. Sophy says

    Unlurking to sympathize. I had a killer sore throat two weeks ago. What I reach for are popcicles, otc pain relief, tea, licorice, and sleep. For the coughing that didn’t let me sleep I ended up taking ibuprofen because it seemed like I didn’t have any gunk in there but everything got too sensitive and ibuprofen blunted that.

  5. ericblair says

    My mother’s favorite home remedy was gargling with warm salt water, a procedure I absolutely hated. I used to get a strep throat every year and just had to endure. I could go to our family doctor when I felt the first twinges and he’d put me on preventive antibiotics to stave off the worst of it, but in college the student health center insisted on doing a culture and waiting two days, by which time, of course, the infection was in full bloom.

  6. says


    I know it is only a temporary relief, but when I feel myself getting sick, I get a bowl of pho (or, more recently, this amazing creamy curried rice noodle soup with beef that my local Vietnamese restaurant makes) and load it up with Sriracha. I find it soothes the throat, causes much cleansing of the sinuses, and has that “comfort food” vibe that makes me feel better.

  7. chezjake says

    They say laughter is the best medicine, and my grandfather’s cure for colds is a least worth a few chuckles and also involves whiskey.

    To get rid of a cold you need:
    1. A bottle of whiskey.
    2. A derby hat.
    3. Three blankets.

    1. Hang derby hat on bedpost.
    2. Get in bed with whiskey bottle and cover yourself with three blankets.
    3. Drink whiskey until you see two derby hats.
    4. When you wake up the cold will be gone.

  8. Numenaster says

    I’ll second the dextromethorphan, but also:

    Eucalyptus is a genuinely effective local anasthetic, and strong tea (with LOADS of honey) will numb your throat. The honey is just because eucalyptus is horrifically bitter. Use small sips to maximize mucous membrane exposure to tea.

    Add lemon if you like, but I don’t, because it doesn’t help the flavor. Whiskey probably would though.

    There are eucalyptus cough drops out there, but I find that they numb my tongue more than my throat and that’s not what hurts! And I make my own tea with about 1 tsp chopped dry leaf, steeped 6 minutes or more.

    I usually add a decongestant like pseudoephedrine (I have a stash of the real stuff left). The post-nasal drip is usually WHY your throat is sore, so stopping the drip will prevent further damage.

    Slippery elm is also a local anasthetic, but I have no personal experience with it for this use. I have heard plenty of recommendations though.

  9. Rod says

    50 ml. brandy, a generous tablespoon of maple syrup.
    Cures any cough I have ever experienced.

  10. left0ver1under says

    My personal favourites, your mileage may vary:

    (1) Tea with honey, not sugar. And maybe a little cinnamon.

    (2) Room temperature fruit juice. The natural sugars and vitamins help, but it hurts going down if it’s cold.

    (3) Avoid acidic soups (e.g. vegetable, tomato) if you’re eating canned. Go for creamier ones (mushroom, clam chowder). And boil some frozen vegetables to mix in for the nutrition and because it’s easy to make and swallow.

    (4) Spend time in the steam room at your local pool. It helps clear out the mouth, nose, throat and lungs, if for only a few hours.

    The absolute worst part about being sick is the mornings. When you go to bed sick, you’re not drinking or taking in food in your sleep. That means your nose, mouth and throat are drying out, and hurt like mad when awaking. It might be better to interrupt sleep for a cup of tea – keep a thermos next to the bed so you don’t have to get up and make it.

  11. Eristae says

    No colloidal silver?! But, but, it can turn you blue! Maybe not fix your illness, but . . . blue!

    Well, if we can’t go with turning you blue, I’m always a fan of hot tea with lemon. You may be saying “OMFG lemon? With a sore throat? Are you crazy?” because that’s what I say to myself every time I drink it, but it still seems to help my throat. For coughing, hot showers (it’s the humidity, I think) can help, although they don’t always (especially if you overdo them).

  12. laurie says

    Lemon juice and honey mixed half and half have worked for me when nothing else has. It actually tastes kind of good.

  13. rob tucker says

    A doctor (a real MD) many years ago recommended host lemonade with whiskey for the cough of pneumonia. Particularly just before sleep. As a 14 year old it worked wonders for getting rest.

  14. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    Ciprofloxacin – when it’s not viral, of course.

    However, from unfortunate personal experience, this will be prescribed to you only when your O2 saturation will start to tank a bit.

  15. Karen Locke says

    I have a chronic severe cough that’s asthma based. One day I’ll cough a few times, the next I’ll cough all day and have aching abdominal muscles. One thing that I’ve noticed helps is fizzy (“sparkling”) water, flavored but unsweetened. There are several companies that sell the stuff, and I expect you could mix it with whiskey and get the same result. The CO2 seems to confuse the throat into ceasing the cough, at least for awhile. I expect sweetened fizzy water would work as well, but I don’t need more sugar nor aspartame in my diet. I drink 3-4 liters a day of the stuff on bad days to keep interrupting the cough.

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