Naturally, we’re all doing our best
to stay healthy and well. We’ve never been more aware of measures we can take
to protect ourselves from getting sick, including washing our hands, not
touching our faces, using masks and practising social distancing.
When it comes to cold and flu, these are all good practices. For flu, in particular, getting
your annual flu vaccination is an easy and proactive step that you can take to
protect yourself each year. And during the pandemic, you may consider a
COVID-19 test to be certain that it isn’t more serious.
Despite our best efforts, all of us
experience the common cold or flu at some point. It’s important to remember
that these products may help you to feel better in the short term - they can’t
miraculously make a cold disappear.
Here are some of the treatments
available to help your symptoms:
A sore throat
A sore throat is one of the first
symptoms that you’re likely to experience if you’ve caught a cold. It can also
be a symptom of the flu.
When soothing a sore throat, look
for a treatment that has anaesthetic properties. These products include lozenges, sprays or gargles, and help to numb the pain. Just remember to be careful not to
burn yourself drinking hot drinks if your mouth is numb.
These types of products often
contain ingredients that are anti-inflammatory or antiseptic to help kill bacteria and soothe discomfort.
Paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen can also help with a
particularly sore throat.
A blocked nose
For a runny or blocked nose, you
want to look for “decongestant” products, which help you to breathe more
easily. These are available as nasal sprays or drops, as well as irrigations, or solutions designed to wash out the
nasal passages. Decongestant nasal sprays and drops are usually only for short
term use. Decongestant tablets are available from your pharmacist (a record of the
purchase must be made for some of these products).
Fever is a reasonably common
symptom of the flu, but rare in the case of the common cold. You don’t always
need to use medication to treat a fever, especially if the person is
comfortable. However, if they’re in pain or distressed, then medication may
help to relieve their discomfort.
Paracetamol or Ibuprofen are both effective in relieving fever. If
you’re caring for a child with a fever, it’s especially important to choose the
right dosage for the child’s age and weight and to follow the directions on the
It’s very important to stay
hydrated with a fever, as sweating can lead to a loss of fluid, which can make
symptoms feel worse. Light, comfortable clothing can also help — but avoid extreme temperatures such as
heavy blankets or ice baths, which can cause greater discomfort.
A cough is a common symptom of both the cold and flu. It’s often caused by
mucus running down the back of the throat, so addressing nasal congestion can
help to provide relief.
When looking for cough treatment,
you need to establish whether the cough is dry or chesty. You can usually tell
from the sound and sensation of the cough, but another way to tell is to note
whether the cough produces mucus — if so, you’re dealing with a chesty cough.
Dry coughs can be treated with a cough suppressant, which helps to stop or reduce the cough. These often take the
form of a liquid or syrup.
Chesty coughs are treated with syrups or liquids as well, however, these work a little
differently. They contain ingredients that help to break down or thin the
mucus, making it easier to cough up and clear from the chest.
You’re more likely to experience a
headache with the flu rather than the common cold. In any case, treat the
headache as you normally would: with paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen.
It’s also important to stay
hydrated, as dehydration can make a headache worse.
Whether you’re fighting the common
cold or the flu, it’s very common to experience fatigue. If you’re feeling
tired, you should take some time to rest. If you need to take time off work,
your local Capital Chemist pharmacist may be able to issue you with a workplace leave certificate. Conditions apply, so speak to your
pharmacist to find out more.
In the case of both cold and flu,
there are products that aim to treat multiple symptoms at the
same time. These
often include headaches, sore throat, a runny nose, and a cough. Be sure to
check the ingredient list before taking any of these combination products so as
to avoid accidentally taking double doses. For example, some hot cold-relieving
drinks also contain paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Special care is needed when
considering cold and flu medicines for children, people with diabetes, and
those with high blood pressure.
Your local Capital Chemist
pharmacist is available to help you choose the right product for you and your
symptoms. They can also help explain how much medicine to take and when to take
it or answer any questions that you have about cold and flu medicines or