Australians are no strangers to colds, with the average adult catching up to four colds every year. Kids fare much worse, suffering through as many as 10 bouts of the sniffles. That’s a lot of mucus! Despite their prevalence, there are still a few myths surrounding colds and how best to treat them. First up, you can’t cure a cold. Colds are caused by viruses, and antibiotics, which treat bacterial infections, have no effect on them whatsoever. Your best strategy for surviving cold season is to focus on relieving your symptoms and keeping up good hygiene habits to stop the virus from spreading. Here’s what you can do.
Aches and pains
Tired and aching muscles are more commonly associated with the flu, but they can be a symptom of a severe cold, too.
- Try an ibuprofen-based pain reliever, such as Nurofen. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory so it can really ease sore muscles.
Use either a natural or medicated decongestant to help with the mucus in stuffy noses and heavy chests.
- For a great DIY steam treatment, try this: Sit in your bathroom and turn on the hot water in the shower to fill the room with steam. After 10 minutes, you should be breathing a little easier. Folllow it up with a hot honey and lemon drink before you hit the hay.
- Nasal decongestants can ease a blocked nose by reducing blood flow and swelling in your nose, making it easier to breathe. They come in nasal sprays and drops, or in tablet form like Nurofen Cold & Flu PE. Don’t use nasal decongestants on children under 12, and seek medical advice before giving them to older children.
- Saline sprays and drops are a wonderful treatment for stuffy noses in babies and children. Small children aren’t skilled at blowing their noses, but the saline solution does the job for them by loosening and rinsing out the mucus. As a result, children will be more comfortable, and may sleep better, too.
- Eucalyptus or menthol oils and ointments have a reputation for widening the sinuses and can help relieve congestion. Dab some on clothing, bedding or a handkerchief.
The cough that comes with a cold can be annoying, sometimes distressing and may even disturb your sleep. Coughs are generally hard to fix and there is no evidence that over-the-counter cough medicines work, but there are a few tricks that may help.
- Elevate your upper body at night to let blood flow away from your head, reducing inflammation of your air passages. Go for a wedge pillow that raises your upper body from the waist up, or place several books under the head of your bed. Stuffing pillows under your head will only give you a stiff neck.
- Have a soothing hot drink, such as herbal tea with lemon, as the hot liquid breaks up mucus in the airways. Just make sure it’s a non-caffeinated variety before you go to bed. Or try Lemsip Max Multi-Relief Cold & Flu Hot Drink which combines a soothing bedtime drink with a number of active ingredients that can provide relief from symptoms including fever, sore throats, nose and chest congestion and aches and pains.
- Coughs often make a throat tender. Relieve a sore throat with a lozenge such as Strepsils Soothing Honey & Lemon Lozenges.
Earaches can occur when your middle ear (located behind the eardrum) fills with fluid, creating pressure and pain.
- In the short term, you can get relief with a paracetamol or ibuprofen-based pain reliever like Nurofen. If the pain persists, see your GP as an ear infection could be the culprit and antibiotics may be required.
It’s worth remembering that a mild to moderate fever is not a problem in itself: in fact, it’s one of the ways that your body fights a cold or flu. The key is to keep comfortable.
- Stay hydrated. A high temperature can make you dehydrated, so it’s important that you keep up your intake of fluids. Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol as they can have a dehydrating effect.
- For quick relief from fever, use a paracetamol or ibuprofen-based medication. A product like Nurofen will give pain relief from headaches and cold-related body aches and pains as well as lowering your temperature.
- If you have a fever and you or your child feel very ill or the fever lasts more than a few days, see your GP as soon as possible.
Like most cold symptoms, a runny nose serves its purpose. That annoying mucus is in fact working hard to keep cold germs out of your lungs where they can cause more serious problems. There’s not much you can do to halt a runny nose, but it is important to have good hygiene habits so the people around you don’t end up sharing your cold.
- Every time you blow your nose, the dirty tissues should go straight in the bin to reduce the risk of the infection spreading.
- Ideally, you should wash your hands every time you wipe or blow your nose. Use an anti-bacterial hand wash to help ensure you remove germs from your hands.
- Relieve your symptoms with a targeted product, such as Nurofen Cold & Flu PE Ibuprofen + Phenylephrine, which has ingredients that help to alleviate the mucus as well as reduce swelling and inflammation.
It’s common to have a painful throat when you have a cold and there are a variety of home-made and chemist-bought products that provide relief.
- Sipping on a warm drink has a soothing effect on an irritated throat. Flavouring the drink with immune-boosting lemon juice and antibacterial honey can help. Or you can try Lemsip Cold & Flu Hot Drink for the effect of paracetamol to relieve pain and reduce fever.
- Gargling with salt water also eases throat pain. Use warm water rather than chilled so that it’s easier for a tender throat to swallow.
- Suck on a lozenge to ease throat soreness Strepsils Plus Anaesthetic Lozenges are formulated to numb the throat. If you’re finding it hard to swallow and the pain is severe, pop into your pharmacy for some lozenges that contain an anti-inflammatory, like Strepfen Intensive Honey & Lemon Lozenges.
LIVE WELL RECOMMENDS
Nurofen Cold & Flu PE
Nurofen Cold & Flu PE provides fast, effective and temporary pain relief of the major symptoms associated with cold and flu without causing drowsiness, including headache, sore throat, sinus pain, body aches and pains, runny nose, blocked nose and fever.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional.
Strepsils Soothing Honey & Lemon Lozenges
Strepsils Lozenges contain a combination of two antibacterial agents to help kill the bacteria that can cause sore throats and mouth infections. Use Strepsils Lozenges for fast, soothing and effective relief from discomfort. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional.
Nurofen is effective in the temporary relief of pain and/or inflammation. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional.
Lemsip Cold & Flu Hot Drink
Soothing drink containing paracetamol for the temporary relief of headaches and fever, sore throat and body aches and pains. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional.
Strepfen Intensive Honey & Lemon Lozenges (pharmacy only)
With an anti-inflammatory action, Strepfen Intensive lozenges are a breakthrough in the treatment of painful and swollen sore throats. They provide fast, effective pain relief without numbing and work for up to four hours to relieve throat soreness. They also help eliminate painful swelling and tenderness of the throat. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional.
Strepsils Plus Anaesthetic Lozenges
Strepsils Plus Lozenges have been formulated to give effective and rapid relief from painful and inflamed sore throats. Their dual action formula contains a local anaesthetic to numb the throat while the two antibacterial agents help kill the bacteria which can cause sore throats and mouth infections. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist consult a healthcare professional.