Guide to treating Colds and Flu
Are you reading this with a handkerchief stuck to your nose? Chances are a few days ago you shook hands with someone suffering from a cold or flu. You really do catch cold and flu from touch as well as sneezes. Worse still, antibiotics are no help in the battle.
Creeps up sneakily
Temperature rises after 24 hours
Near normal appetite
Blocked or runny nose and sneezing
Temperature rise within 24 hours
Often severe headache
All over aches and pains
Feeling sick and vomiting
Forget antibiotics - they won’t make any difference for a simple cold or flu. Instead you can visit your pharmacist for advice but be prepared for the pharmacist or counter staff to ask about your symptoms.
• Some people need to be even more careful than others about taking medicines. You will be asked if the person who is ill, is a child, elderly, pregnant or breast feeding and also whether they have asthma or any other chest complaint.
• A good clue to what you have is how long you’ve been suffering. You may be advised to see your doctor if you have had the symptoms for longer than two weeks, or if symptoms are severe.
• Some medicines interact badly with each other. Tell your pharmacist about any medicines, including herbal or complementary remedies, that you are already taking.
• Older people or those suffering from long standing illnesses, such as asthma or other chest complaints, diabetes, heart conditions or those with a cough lasting more than two weeks, should give their general practice a ring. Your doctor will also be able to advise you on the flu jab.
Self-help Here are some self-help tips to make life easier:
• Blocked or painful ears and catarrh: Nasal decongestants could help the tubes connecting your ears to your throat which can cause dull hearing when they are blocked. Menthol vapour may also help. Add a few drops to a basin of hot (not boiling) water and breathe in through your nose. Kill pain with Paracetamol of Ibuprofen.
• Runny nose: Stop the drip with a decongestant nasal spray or tablets.
• Sore throat and swollen glands: Many people find that gargling with soluble aspirin really works (not for children under 12) or people taking other painkillers or medicines for stomach and joint problems. Alternatively try medicated lozenges which can also help, but, READ THE LABEL, taking too many can make things worse. Most sore throats don’t need antibiotics.
• Cough: Wet coughs with phlegm need different treatment from dry coughs. Your pharmacist can advise you on the best treatment. See your doctor if you cough up blood, or if it lasts longer than a couple of weeks.
• If a child complains of a sore throat, that the light is hurting their eyes, or has a blue/red rash which doesn’t turn white when pressed with a glass tumbler, it could be meningitis. Dial 999 and call an ambulance. Do the same if the child has a fit or displays any unusual symptoms.
Always read the instructions on the label before taking all medicines and follow any advice given to you by your pharmacist.
Surprisingly simple home remedies can also help you to get to grips with the worst symptoms.
• Drink plenty of non-alcoholic drinks. This replaces water lost through sweating and keeps your chest, nose lining and mucus moist which helps to get rid of viruses.
• Avoid heavy exercise. If you need to stay in bed, then tell your employer you will be off for a few days. You will be doing your work mates a favour by keeping the virus to yourself.
• Keep your bedroom warm but ventilated and try not to get chilled or overheated.
• Vitamin C and Cod Liver Oil supplements can help maintain your natural immune system.
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