Common Cold

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Overview

A cold is a viral infection that affects the nose, throat, sinuses, voice, airways and lungs.

The symptoms of a cold usually begin 2-3days after you become infected and can last for 2-14 days.

Sometime people refer to a bad cold as a flu. However, colds and flus are caused by different viruses. The symptoms of a cold can develop over a couple of days where as flu symptoms are much more sudden, developing in hours.

Symptoms

  • Sneezing
  • Blocked / Runny Nose
  • Sore Throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Mild Fever (37-38*C)
  • Mild Earache
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Coughing

When to seek urgent medical advice

  • Persistent Fever (temperature of 38*C)
  • Sharp pain when breathing in
  • Cough up blood stained mucus
  • You are breathless at rest
  • If other people notice you become confused or disorientated
  • Your heart rate is faster than normal 

Causes

  • Viruses are the main cause
  • Temporary inflammatory of the wind pipe and airways
  • Thick mucus

Do I need antibiotics?

There is no cure for a cold. Antibiotics are of no help as they do not work against viruses. Sometimes a cold can lead to another bacterial infection e.g. Ear Infection / Sinusitis / Tonsillitis. 

If this happens and continues for more than two weeks, you may need to see a doctor. However if you get chest pains or have difficulty breathing then you should seek urgent medical help.

What treatment should I take?

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have a high temperature
  • Rest as much as possible
  • Stop smoking


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