Coughs & Colds

‘One of my customers asked me for advice about how to deal with coughs and colds; last year she and her family had one bug after another and seemed to spend the entire winter coughing and sneezing.’

Most of us will get a cough or a cold this autumn or winter, with adults usually get between two and four colds each year.

Coughs and colds are caused by viruses that are spread from one person to another through someone coughing or sneezing and through contaminated fingers, spreading the viruses from the nose and mouth onto hard and soft surfaces, where they can live for a number of hours. This makes them very difficult avoid.

Cold & Flu - health advice

You may not be able to avoid them, but you can minimise the impact by looking after yourself and your family this winter. Aiming to keep you and your family generally fit and healthy should minimise the impact if you do pick up a winter cough and /or cold.

Cough & Cold Symptoms

The main symptoms of winter coughs and colds are:

If these symptoms sound familiar, you should visit your local Alphega pharmacy where you can buy over-the-counter medicines and get expert advice on how to manage your symptoms.

Managing the Symptoms of Cough & Cold

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken to manage fever as well as any aches and pains.

Decongestants can help reduce the swelling inside your nose so you can breathe more easily, and cough remedies can help ease coughs. There are lots of different cough remedies available for both dry, tickly coughs and chesty coughs.

As there are so many different over-the-counter products available to manage the symptoms of coughs and colds, always check with a member of the pharmacy team which would be the most suitable for your symptoms and to make sure you are not taking medicines with the same or similar ingredients, which may mean you could be taking too much of one ingredient.

If you do get a cough or cold this winter, you should try to rest, eat healthily, avoid stress and keep hydrated. If you have a temperature or fever, you may need to drink extra fluids.

Most cough and cold viruses will go away in their own time, usually after a few days. However, you or your child should visit your GP if:

  • You have a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease
  • You have a very high temperature, an unusually severe headache or abdominal pain
  • Your child is vomiting but has no diarrhoea
  • Your child has a rash as well as a fever
  • Your child stops drinking and is unusually lethargic
  • Your child’s fever doesn’t respond to paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Stop the Spread of Cough & Cold

Reduce the spread of viruses by following the Department of Heath’s simple hygiene steps:

  • Catch it:
    Germs spread easily, so always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze
  • Bin it:
    Dispose of your tissue as soon as possible as germs can live for several hours on tissues
  • Kill it: 
    Wash your hands as soon as you can to avoid transferring germs to every surface you touch.
View: Treating the Common Cold