Cold and Flu

Cold and Flu

Always wash your hands before you eat. This is a major mode of transmission for colds, flu and other infections.

Cold

With a cold, you may have a sore throat, sneezing, a blocked or runny nose. You will usually feel worse during the first two to three days before gradually starting to improve. 

Most colds can be treated at home and will get better by themselves without any specific treatment.  Drink plenty of liquids, get lots of rest and eat healthily. Talk to your pharmacist about products and medications that will help.  Paracetamol or ibuprofen will relieve pain or a fever. Resume your normal activities when you feel well enough. 

More information on how to manage your cold  

Flu

It is useful to know the differences between the flu and the common cold.

Symptoms of a cold appear gradually, are not severe and affect just your nose and throat.

Symptoms of flu are more severe, causing fever (high temperature) and aching muscles. Flu symptoms can begin suddenly.  Seasonal flu (also known as influenza) is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus.

Headache is very common. You will feel extremely weak and may find it hard to even get out of bed.  After a few days you may develop a cough.  Your symptoms will usually peak after two to three days and you should begin to feel much better within five to eight days. A cough and general tiredness may last for two to three weeks. 

If you are generally fit and healthy, you can manage your symptoms at home and you will usually get better without treatment.  Ask your pharmacist for advice and over-the-counter medicines that will help. Paracetamol or ibuprofen will relieve headache, muscle pains and fever. The best treatment is to stay indoors, rest, keep warm and drink plenty of liquids.  

When to see a Doctor

Usually, you do not need to see the doctor.  However, if you are in an at-risk group and have flu-like symptoms, or if your flu symptoms are getting worse, see your doctor as you are more likely to get complications from the flu.

  • Symptoms don't improve after seven days.
  • You're pregnant.
  • You have a serious health condition - for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease.
  • You have a weakened immune system - for example, because of chemotherapy or HIV.

You may need special anti-viral medicines. These work best if started within 48 hours of flu symptoms.

Simple hygiene can also help you avoid catching flu and prevent its spread. Carry tissues and use them to catch coughs or sneezes; bin the used tissues as soon as possible, and then wash your hands and kill the germs.

More information 

How to manage your flu

All about Flu

When to seek help for your flu