Colds and viruses

SEASONAL COLDS and UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION

On this page, you will find information about seasonal colds, viruses and upper respiratory tract infections including videos, leaflets.

What is a COLD or UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION

The common cold and most upper resporatory infections are caused by infection with germs (viral infections). They usually get better in a week or two.  .

 

 

What causes a COLD or UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION

A cold is an infection of the nose and opper airways caused by a germ (virus). They are extremely common. An adult can expect 2-4 colds a year and a child can expect about 5-6 colds a year. Very young children in nursery school may get as many as 12 colds a year. Many different viruses can cause a cold. This is why colds come back (recur) and immunisation against colds is not possible.

 

To learn more about colds, click here.

To learn more about upper respiratory tract infections, click here.

 

Do I have a COLD or UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION?

Cold symptoms come on gradually and can include a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, coughs, sneezing, a raised temperatire, pressure in your ears and face, and loss of taste and smell. They symptoms are the same in adults and children. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.

 

To use a symptom checker, click here.

 

What treatment is available ?

Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not relieve symptoms or speed up your recovery. Antibiotics are only affective against bacterial infections. To help you get better quickly you should have plenty of rest and sleep, keep warm, drink plenty of water (to avoid dehydration) and gargle salt to soothe a sore throat.

 

You can also buy cough  and cold medicines from pharmacies or supermarkets. A pharmacist can advise you on the best medicine.

 

You can relieve a blocked nose with decongestant sprays or tablets and ease aches or lower a temperature with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen..

 

Be careful not to use cough and cold medicines if you're taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tables, as it's easy to take mroe than the recommended dose.  Some are not suitable for children, babies and pregant women. There is little evidence that supplements (such as vitamin C, echinacea or garlic) prevent colds or speed up recovery.

 

Please note, your GP surgery cannot treat a normal cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Relevant treatment is available from your local pharmacy. 

 

However, you should contact us if:

- your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks

 - if your symptoms get suddenly worse

- if your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery

- you are concerned about your child's symptoms

 - you are finding it hard to brathe or develop chest pain

- you have a long-term medical condition, for example diabetes, or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease

- you have a weakened immune system, for example because you are having chemotherapy.

 

To learn more about coughs and colds in children, click here.

 

I want to learn more. Are there any online videos I can watch?

 

Yes there is. The NHS has put together a number of videos. You can search for these on Youtube.  A selection, however, are as follow:

 

Learn how to treat a cold

Learn how to treat a cold in a child

Learn how to care for a child with fever

Learn about what your pharmacy can do

Learn how to make hot lemon with honey