Thursday, September 06, 2012

How to Stop Coughing

This is my first blog post since discovering a miracle cure for rampant coughing.

Four weeks ago, there was a heatwave in Zurich. I hate heatwaves because while they make women dress sexy, they also stop me sleeping. When I can't sleep, I can't write. I can barely flirt with the sexy women.

When the temperature started to normalise, all my mental run-time was focused on a date with a local uber-babe. Come the evening of the date, she pressed herself against me and huskily whispered in my ear, 'I have something for you...'

Then she coughed directly into my open mouth, said 'You're It' and scarpered, laughing.

I shambled home and after 36 hours of feverish sweating I spent ten days coughing all night. 

Until last Thursday night, I'd had literally eight seconds of sleep in the previous three weeks, and no inclination to write anything.

I tried everything (I'm using a pretty relaxed definition of the word) - sleeping pills, cough medicine, flu medicine, beer, wine, pizzas, porn, sleeping upside down. Some things worked for a while then lost their edge. Some things did nothing.

Thursday was the final straw. Having felt I was getting better I then started coughing so loud and so without cease that I genuinely expected the neighbours to knock and complain. 

It pissed me off. It made me furious. It filled me with a righteous anger. After punching my pillows and all the other soft things in my flat for a good hour, I sat tight-lipped (between bouts of lung-busting coughs) at my laptop and typed 'how to stop coughing.'

Googling remedies! Me! You can imagine how low I had sunk.

The first result - and it's another mark of my desperation that I clicked on the first search result - was from a website apparently designed in 1993 featuring grating backgrounds, spelling and grammar mistakes aplenty, unfathomable graphics, and 'secret Soviet Union techniques' peddled by a scary looking Russian man. All Russian men scare me now, after a recent run-in with a Russian student who I may blog about one day. Suffice to say that I am mortally afraid of Russian males and would rather eat my own face than take medical advice from one.

But I was desperate.

And three minutes later I was - pretty much - a hundred percent cured.

I'll link to the site so you can giggle at it. But the content seriously works, so if you have a cough and want to control it, try this:

Breathe less.

Yep, that's basically it. There's some guff on the site about coughing causing reduced oxygen levels in the brain, but it doesn't matter. You just need to know what to do.

Start by holding your breath as long as you can (wonderfully called 'self-suffocation'), then breathe exclusively through your nose (in and out, DUH). On the out-breath, try to consciously relax your muscles. If you feel like coughing, try to do it with your mouth closed. (It's all good for restoring your oxygen/CO2 balance, comrade. Warning - self-suffocation carries a risk of suffocation. But seriously, don't die while trying this. That would be ridiculous.)

After three minutes of doing that, I was lying in bed thinking 'huh!' And then slept like a baby. I woke up on Friday feeling pretty damn good, and have been feeling 90% better and 90% less coughy every day since (exponentially). It's frikkin ACE.

Thank you, Soviet Union remedy!

Check out the scary Russian man and his legitimately amazing advice here.

Update - a week after finding the cure, I'm sleeping without problems and have some minor coughing through the day. When it starts to flare up I just breathe through my nose for a bit and it gets better. It really works!


  1. That entire panel of blue scrubbed doctors halfway down looks entirely legit to me!

  2. Update: I saw Andrew last night and he's still coughing. Maybe it'd help to see a real doctor. I know a good one in Zurich who speaks English.

  3. Update: I have some minor coughing which bothers no-one except Cecile. I can sleep at night and am 99% better. Which is the point.


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