A cold is a slight virus-related infection of the sinuses, throat, nose and lungs. It’s very common and generally gets better within one or two weeks.
The main symptoms of a cold consist of:
- A painful throat.
- A congested or runny nose.
- A cough.
More serious symptoms, including a high fever, headache and sore muscles can also take place though these tend to be related more with flu.
What to Do
There’s no remedy for a cold, but you can apply some treatment measures at home:
- Relaxing, drinking plenty of liquids and eating healthily.
- Taking over-the-counter sedatives, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to decrease any fever or pain.
- Using decongestant sprays or pills to relieve a congested nose.
- Trying mixtures such as gurgling salt water.
Many sedatives and decongestants are obtainable from pharmacies without a prescription. They’re normally safe for older teenagers and adults to take, but may not be appropriate for babies, young kids, pregnant females, individuals with certain core health disorders, and those taking certain other medicines. Chat to a pharmacist if you’re uncertain.
When to see your GP
If you or your kid has a cold, there’s generally no need to see your doctor as it should fade within a week or two.
You only really have to phone your GP if:
- Your symptoms continue for more than three weeks.
- Your symptoms get unexpectedly worse.
- You have breathing problems.
- You develop difficulties of a cold, such as chest discomfort or coughing up blood-stained phlegm.
It may also be a good idea to visit your doctor if you’re worried about your baby or an elderly individual, or if you have a long-term disorder such as a lung sickness.
How do Colds Spread?
In general, an individual becomes infectious from a few days before their symptoms start until all of their symptoms have disappeared. This means most individuals will be contagious for around two weeks.
You can catch the germ from a contagious person by:
- Breathing tiny drops of fluid that contain the cold virus – these are transmitted into the air when a sick individual coughs or sneezes.
- Touching the skin of somebody who has the infected drops on their skin and then touching your nose or mouth.
- Touching an item or surface polluted by infected drops and then touching your nose or mouth
How Can I Stop a Cold from Spreading?
- Wash your hands frequently, mainly after touching your nose or mouth and before touching food.
- Always use tissues when sneezing or coughing – this will help avoid the virus-containing drops.
- Clean surfaces frequently to keep them clear of germs.
- Use your own plates, cup, and kitchen utensils.
- Don’t use other people’s towels from somebody who has a cold.