Colds & Flu

What Are They?

The common cold and flu (influenza) are very common infections of the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, ears and sinuses).

The cold and flu viruses are very contagious and are usually spread in the small droplets of saliva coughed or sneezed into the atmosphere by an infected person.

Direct contact with hands contaminated with the viruses can also spread the infection.

What Are The Symptoms?

A cold causes a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, mild fever and tiredness, lasting two to four days.

Flu is more severe with a high fever, chills, headache, muscle pains, exhaustion, loss of appetite, cough and sometimes a blocked nose and sore throat which may last a week or more.

Flu strikes suddenly and affects the whole body, whereas symptoms of a cold tend to come on gradually, usually affecting only the nose, throat, sinuses and upper chest.

How Can I Treat Them?

If you are usually fit and healthy, you can treat the symptoms of cold and flu at home using remedies available from pharmacies. Antibiotics are not prescribed as they have no effect on viruses.

However, occasionally it may be necessary to control complications, especially serious chest infections or pneumonia.

Brown’s Pharmacy’s top tips for dealing with cold and flu viruses

  • Stay in bed and rest for the first couple of days of the flu;
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration;
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a high temperature and relieve headaches and muscle aches;
  • Those most at risk of the flu are advised to have a vaccination every year, ask your GP or local pharmacy about how to obtain one

Remember, your pharmacist is always available to provide advice, you should always check if medicines are suitable before self medicating.