Dear Doctor Jahn,
I haven’t been sick for years! I don’t have time to be – I gig 6 nights a week! But here I am with a temperature (102), sore throat, stuck in bed for the second day. I want an instant cure! Short of that, tell me the quickest way I can get through this and back up on stage!!
No matter what great health you enjoy, you will inevitably occasionally get sick. So if you gig six nights a week and haven’t been sick for years, isn’t it time that you were? I mean, you need to cut yourself a bit of slack. Fever is not the illness, but it is your immune system’s response to a bacterial or viral invader. So if you get a fever, especially a brief episode, it is just a sign that your immune system is doing a good job – it is raising your body temperature to make the environment too hot for those bugs.
My suggestion is to not ignore or suppress your symptoms just to get back on stage, but rather that you support your body in the war effort by resting, drinking lots of water and taking Vitamin C, at least 1000 mg a day, which you can increase to 4000 mg a day while you’re sick. Your illness sounds like an acute bacterial infection, so you may also consider antibiotics if you’re not getting better on your own within 3-4 days.
More importantly, once this episode is gone, consider ongoing preventive methods, including regular exercise, vitamins, a healthy diet and adequate rest.
Can you get on stage and perform with a raging fever? You could, by dosing up on aspirin and other drugs. But, unless you’re doing it to get through an uncancellable career-changing performance opportunity, why would you? You’re short-changing your body and undermining your general health by doing so.
-Anthony F. Jahn, MD, FACS, FRCS(C)
This discussion is for general information and not to be construed as specific medical advice that you should obtain from your own physician.
Dr. Jahn is an internationally renowned otolaryngologist based in Manhattan with a sub-specialty interest in the professional voice. His practice includes classical and popular singers. He holds academic appointments at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Westminster Choir College in Princeton. He is Medical Director at Jazz at Lincoln Center, and former Director of Medical Services at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Dr. Jahn has published several books for vocalists, including “Vocal Heath for Singers” (Singdaptive) and “The Singer’s Guide to Complete Health” (Oxford University Press).