Anthony F. Jahn, M.D.

Articles and Tips

Singers: Avoid The Common Cold

Dear Dr. Jahn,

I literally canít afford to catch a cold this time of year! Too many important gigs lined up. So, what are my best chances to avoid catching one Ė or, if I get one (gasp!), what is my quickest way through it?? Iím wondering if you will tell me anything my mother hasnít alreadyÖ


Dear Kitty,

If your mother is like mine, it is unlikely I can do better than her, but here it goes.

First, stay healthy: eat and drink enough, get adequate sleep, exercise regularly and avoid stress as much as possible. Stress can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable for the cold virus.

Second, minimize the potential for contagion: wash your hands several times a day, especially before touching your face (monitor that you donít touch your face unnecessarily or habitually), donít shake hands with sick people and try to avoid crowded places as much as you can.

At the risk of looking silly, cover your face with a scarf if you need to go on a crowded bus or train during rush hour.

If anyone in your family (or a room mate) gets sick, minimize direct physical contact and donít share personal items such as toiletries, dishes or cutlery.

On the active side of prevention, take Vitamin C, about 4000 mg a day in divided doses during cold season.

Other remedies such as Echinacea may also be helpful, but Vitamin C clearly is beneficial.

At the first sign of a cold, double your Vitamin C intake, always divided over the course of the day.

Remedies containing Vitamin C, such as Airborne are very usefulódonít know if you have this in the U.K., but it is an effervescent tablet with vitamins and other remedies that you can drink at the onset of a cold.

Zinc lozenges are very useful, as are zinc nasal swabsó not as a preventive, but they do shorten the cold, make the symptoms less severe and make you less contagious. (Avoid zinc nasal spray, since some patients have reported a loss of smell using the spray formulation.)

If you do get sick, stop exercising, stay warm, drink lots of fluids and let your body heal itself. You do not need antibiotics unless the viral cold leads to a secondary bacterial infection, which manifests with mucus that is green or yellow..

Let me know how your season goes!

—Dr. Jahn

DISCLAIMER: Reprinted by Permission, VoiceCouncil Magazine. The suggestions given by Dr. Jahn in these columns are for general information only, and not to be construed as specific medical advice, or advocating specific treatment, which should be obtained only following a visit and consultation with your own physician.