How to treat the common cold

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NHS England are urging people not to book a doctors appointment if they have a cold as antibiotics do not work and people may be taking an appointment away from someone who really needs it.

As part of the Stay Well This Winter campaign the NHS are advising people the best treatment for a problem.

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

An NHS spokesman said: “There’s no cure for a cold, but you can look after yourself at home.”

The main symptoms of a cold include; a sore throat; a blocked or runny nose; sneezing or a cough.

More severe symptoms, including a high temperature (fever), headache and aching muscles can also occur, although these tend to be associated more with flu.

To help the symptoms patients are advised to rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthily as well as taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to reduce any fever or discomfort, use decongestant sprays or tablets to relieve a blocked nose and to try remedies such as gargling salt water and sucking on menthol sweets.

The NHS spokesman said: “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 or you develop complications of a cold, such as chest pain or coughing up bloodstained mucus.”