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Avon Medical Centre - Stratford Doctors

Influenza and a Cold

Influenza or “flu”, is an unpleasant and occasionally severe illness.  People normally have a high fever that often comes on abruptly.  The fever is usually accompanied by shivering attacks, muscle aches, headaches, and a cough.  Some people vomit and can become bed ridden.

A cold is a mild complaint, and is a nuisance rather than a severe illness.  People often have a low grade or no fever, a runny nose and a mild headache from congested sinuses.  They do not experience muscle pains but do sometimes have a cough.

Both a cold and flu can last 7-10 days but normally people begin to feel better after the first two to three days.

There are no cures for either a cold or flu. There is however a great deal that you can do to help yourself feel more comfortable and prevent passing an infection on to others.

Rest  at home to allow your body to fight the infection, and prevent passing the infection on to others.
Drink Plenty of fluids. This will help prevent the lining of your nose and throat from drying out and restore any fluids lost.

Take Regular Paracetamol every 4 to 6 hours for up to 3 days. Check with the pharmacist that you can take paracetamol with any medication you are already taking.

Steam inhalations may help relieve nasal congestion, but avoid using boiling water.

A decongestant may help dry up a runny nose and relieve blocked sinuses.

Lozenges and gargles may help relieve a sore throat.

Children under the age of 12 must not be given medication containing aspirin unless advised to by your doctor.

You must contact a Doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
• Severe headache or neck pain
• If light causes yours or your child’s eyes to be painful
• Children who have an unusual or high-pitched cry
• High fever above 38 degrees C
• Vomiting
• Skin rash
• Mottled or cold arms or legs
• Shortness of breath

Some groups of people are more at risk from the severe complications of flu.  These include the very young and frail, and people with chronic conditions such as: diabetes, asthma, heart disease, kidney disease and leukaemia.  These people should see their doctor sooner and ask the doctor or practice nurse if they can have a free flu vaccination.

Cold and flu viruses can not be killed by antibiotics. Often an antibiotic can cause more problems by causing nausea, a rash, thrush or rarely more serious side effects.  They may be needed for the complications of flu, and should be saved for if these happen.

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