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Cold and Flu 

A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It's very common and usually clears up on its own within a week or two.

The main symptoms of a cold include:

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 to do

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

  • resting, drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthily
  • taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, 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 menthol sweets

Many painkillers and decongestants are available from pharmacies without a prescription. They're generally 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. Speak to a pharmacist if you're unsure.

When to see your GP

If you or your child has a cold, there's usually no need to see your GP as it should clear within a week or two.

You only really need to contact your GP if:

  • your symptoms persist for more than three weeks
  • your symptoms get suddenly worse
  • you have breathing difficulties
  • you develop complications of a cold, such as chest pain or coughing up bloodstained mucus

It might also be a good idea to see your GP if you're concerned about your baby or an elderly person, or if you have a long-term illness such as a lung condition. You can also phone NHS 111 for advice.

 

 

A-Z conditions:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions