Hot tips for winter colds
|There is still no cure for the common cold. However, there are many simple remedies available to make you more comfortable.
The common cold is an infection of the nose and throat, caused by a virus. The usual symptoms are a sore throat, runny or blocked nose, cough and sometimes tiredness, headache and fever. Most colds settle within a week and do not require antibiotics.
How can colds be prevented?
The best way to avoid catching a cold is to keep away from people who have one! Colds are usually caught when someone coughs or sneezes a virus on you, and sometimes by touching. You cannot catch a cold by getting caught in the rain or from sitting on a cold seat.
Keep your immune system in tip top shape by reducing stress, eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise and not smoking.
It is important to have extra rest and plenty of fluids when you have a cold. Avoid other people to prevent spreading your infection. Zinc lozenges and vitamin C tablets may help to shorten the illness.
Pain and fever
Take regular paracetamol or aspirin. Sore throats are soothed by gargling dissolved aspirin or salt water (one teaspoon of salt in a glass of water). Lozenges or gargles which contain an anaesthetic or painkiller may be helpful.
Runny or blocked nose
Inhaled steam and salt water nose drops are old but useful remedies. Decongestant nose sprays give quick relief but should not be used for more than a week.
Decongestant tablets (eg pseudoephedrine) open up the nose and sinuses but should be avoided if you have high blood pressure, heart trouble or an enlarged prostate. They are often combined with an antihistamine to help dry up mucus (eg chlorpheniramine + pseudoephedrine or loratadine + pseudoephedrine).
Steam inhalation or honey and lemon juice help soothe an irritating cough. Cough suppressants generally have little effect. If you are bringing up sputum it is best to keep coughing it out.
When to see the doctor
Sometimes complications develop and an antibiotic may be needed. Come to the surgery if you develop:
· a sore ear or sinuses
· chest pain or difficulty breathing
· a severe or persistent sore throat or fever
· if you are worried at any stage
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.Source: Winter 1997 Edition | Page 1
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