Cold in the Tropics….

A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It’s very common especially during the rainy season that seems to go on forever. It usually clears up on its own within a week or two.

The main symptoms of a cold include:

  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • sneezing
  • a cough

More severe symptoms, including a high temperature (fever), headache and aching muscles can also occur, although these tend to be associated more with flu.

What should you do?

There’s no cure for a cold, but you can look after yourself by:

  • resting, drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthily
  • taking painkillers, such as paracetamol to reduce any fever or discomfort
  • using decongestant sprays or tablets to relieve a blocked nose
  • trying remedies such as gargling salt water and sucking on sweets

Many painkillers and decongestants are safe for older children and adults to take, but might not be suitable for babies, young children, pregnant women, people with certain underlying health conditions, and those taking certain other medications. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure.

When to see your Medical Practitioner

If you or your child has a cold, there’s usually no need to see your family doctor as it should clear within a 10 days or so.

You need to contact your doctor if:

  • your symptoms last for more than three weeks
  • your symptoms get worse
  • you have difficulty to  breath
  • you develop complications like chest pain or coughing up blood.

It might also be a good idea to see a doctor if you’re concerned about your child or an elderly person, or if you have another serious illness or lung condition.

Common-Cold-Child-3MD-How do colds spread?

A person becomes contagious a few days before their symptoms begin until their symptoms have gone. This means most people will be infectious for around two weeks.

You can catch the virus from an infectious person by:

  • touching an object contaminated by infected droplets and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes
  • touching the skin of someone who has infected droplets on their skin and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes
  • inhaling tiny droplets that contain the cold virus – these are launched into the air when a person coughs or sneezes

Colds spread most easily among groups of people in constant close contact, such as families and children in school. A number of different viruses can cause a cold, so it’s possible to have several colds one after the other, as each one may be caused by a different virus.

How can I stop a cold spreading?

You can take some simple steps to help prevent the spread of a cold. For example:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially when touching your nose or mouth and before handling food
  • always sneeze and cough into tissues you should throw away used tissues immediately and wash your hands
  • clean surfaces regularly to keep them free of germs
  • do not share your cup, plates and cutlery.
  • don’t share towels or toys with someone who has a cold

It’s been suggested that vitamin c, zinc and garlic supplements may help reduce your risk of getting a cold, but there’s currently not enough evidence to support this. Discuss any concerns with your personal trusted medical practitioner. You can also contact Good Practice clinic at 021 7183140 or look us up via

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