Preparing to Deal with Colds and Flu

Published on 01st November 2017

Edited on 01st November 2017

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As autumn comes to an end and winter creeps in, it's important to consider preparing for cold and flu viruses that inevitably strike when the temperature drops. In this article, we will take a look at various aspects of these infections and what you can do to help prepare yourself.

What is a cold and what is flu?

Both colds and influenza, generally referred to as flu, are more common during the winter and early spring months. If you are young and healthy, if you catch flu then you may not be well enough to go to work and may have to stay in bed. Rather than the familiar runny nose, cough and sore throat of a common cold, flu tends to be more associated with:

  • a high temperature (fever) of 38o C or above
  • tiredness and lack of energy
  • a headache
  • aches and pains of the whole body
  • a dry cough

Both colds and flu tend to clear up on their own within a week or two. Normally, after a week you should begin to feel better, although you may feel tired for a little longer.  

A helpful article that can help you tell the difference between cold and flu symptoms is available here.

Avoiding Colds and Flu

Colds and flu can spread easily, either through direct bodily contact or someone sneezing or coughing in your proximity. Sometimes people can pass on their bugs even when they are not displaying symptoms, usually a day prior or up to a week after the illness[1]. The most obvious way to avoid colds and flu is to completely avoid any contact with other people! However, we know that’s not possible or practical. Here are some hygiene measures that can help to prevent the spread of the viruses or help to stop you catching them from others.1

  • Try to sneeze or cough into a tissue to prevent the virus spreading through the air. Throw away  tissues as soon as you have used them
  • Try not share items with someone who has a cold, especially things like towels
  • Keep your distance from others as and when you can. Avoid shaking hands if you have a cold or flu - people should understand that you have their best interests in mind
  • Remember to wash your hands regularly as cold viruses can also be passed around by hand to hand contact. Hand sanitisers can be effective in helping to combat the viruses
  • ·          Wipe surfaces that you or others with a cold may have touched. Viruses can hang around on doorknobs for up to 24 hours!

What can you have ready in case you catch a cold or flu?

Rest is helpful for these common illnesses and it has been proven in studies that sleep can boost the immune system and guard against colds.2 In addition to rest, some of the following methods could also aid recovery and reduce the time this takes:

  • ·          Remember to drink lots of fluids, including hot drinks - they can act as natural decongestants
  • ·          Continue to eat as normally as possible
  • ·          Gargle salted water to help ease a sore throat
  • ·          Perhaps try acupuncture - interestingly, one research study shows that acupuncture may have benefits for sufferers of a cold4!

OTC medicines – which symptoms can they help?

Several proven remedies to help ease your symptoms are available from your local pharmacy. Flu, and to a lesser extent, colds are often accompanied by aches and pains and sometimes fever. A simple painkiller, or anti-inflammatory medicines known as NSAIDs, can help bring some relief to your symptoms. There are also OTC remedies available for the irritating nasal and sinus part of a cold, in the form of nasal decongestants. If you have a sore throat, lozenges may soothe it in addition to gargling. If you smoke, it's a good time to stop or cut down to try to prevent your throat feeling any worse.

Nurofen for Colds and Flu

The Nurofen range has cold and flu remedies available. Nurofen Cold and Flu contains ibuprofen, which offers pain relief from headaches, fever, sore throats. Additionally, it helps lower a high temperature if you have one. Nurofen Colds and Flu also contains a helpful nasal decongestant, called pseudoephedrine.

Hopefully the tips above have given you some ideas on how you might prepare for and treat the potential challenges of this winter’s round of viruses. Having said that, if you do catch flu or cold try not to worry too much, as you should find your symptoms mild and short lived. If your symptoms worsen or your illness persists for more than a week or two, you should seek medical advice.

Flu and sometimes colds, carry a slight risk of complications such as a chest infection. Flu may also be more severe if you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma, which could be aggravated by the virus. Always remember that help is at hand from your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions about the effects of colds and flu or about their treatment.

References:

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/coldsandflu/Pages/Coldsandfluhome.aspx
  2. http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/8-tips-to-treat-colds-and-flu-the-natural-way
  3. Kawakita K, Shichidou T, Inoue E, Nabeta T, Kitakouji H, Aizawa S, Nishida A, Yamaguchi N, Takahashi N, Yano T, Tanzawa S. Preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the common cold: a multicentre randomized controlled trial in Japan. Complement Ther Med. 2004 Dec;12(4):181-8
  4. http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2004/may/05amaro.html

 

Nurofen Cold and Flu Film-Coated Tablets Ibuprofen 200mg Pseudoephedrine Hydrochloride 30mg, Always read the label.

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