It is the rainy season. A lot of people sneeze and cough. I thought it was good to write a few words on simple colds. What is a common cold?
You can often treat a cold without seeing a doctor. It can take up to two weeks before you feel better unfortunately.
WHAT TO CHECK FOR
Cold symptoms can start gradually and may include :
- Runny or blocked nose
- painful throat
- pain in muscles
- a cough
- a fever (more than 38C in adults, 37.5C in children)
- feeling of pressure in your ears and face (sinuses?)
- loss of smell and taste
The symptoms are the same in adults and children.
How you can treat a cold
To get better more quickly :
- rest and sleep
- keep warm
- to drink plenty of water, fruit juice or squash mixed with water.
- gargle with salt water
- some cold medicines
- You may relieve a blocked nose with a decongestant spray or tablets
- Pain or a fever can become less with paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Some are not suitable for children, babies or pregnant women.
There’s little evidence that supplements like vitamin c, zinc, echinacea or garlic can prevent colds or speed up recovery.
See a doctor if:
- symptoms don’t improve after three weeks or if they suddenly become worse
- you have a very high fever or if you feel hot and shivery
- you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms
- you have difficulty to breathe or develop chest pain
- you have a chronic condition like diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease
- you have a weak immune system
We don’t recommend antibiotics for colds because they won’t change your symptoms or speed up a recovery.
Colds are caused by viruses and antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections.
How to stop spreading a cold
Viruses which cause colds can easily spread to other people. You’re infectious until all your symptoms have gone, which can be up to two weeks.
The germs that cause colds are spread by coughs and sneezes and they can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading
- wash your hands frequently
- use paper tissues when you cough or sneeze
- cough into the inside of your elbow
- bin used tissues as quickly as possible
How to prevent a cold
A person with a cold can start spreading it from a few days before their symptoms begin until the symptoms have finished.
- Do not share towels or household items (like cups) with someone who has a cold
- Do not touch your eyes or nose in case you’ve come into contact with the virus – it can infect the body this way
- Try to stay fit and healthy
- Wash your hands with soap and water
Talk to your trusted medical practitioner if you have any questions or concerns.