How to survive a cold.
The return to school in the Autumn term after the long summer break, along with a change to colder weather, invariably leads to many of us suffering the annual cough or cold. If you are one of the lucky people who haven’t yet succumbed to the autumn bugs, the advice from Mr Martyn Barnes, ENT consultant, at Baddow Hospital may help to make autumn/winter coughs and colds more bearable or, indeed, to avoid the misery altogether.
How to survive a cold?
Regrettably, there remains no cure to the common cold.
You may well have a cold, but nasal allergy is commonly thought of as ‘a cold’ too – see advice on nasal allergy.
I would divide my advice into three approaches.
Colds are a viral illness. Antibiotics do nothing to viral illnesses.
If you think you have acute sinusitis (a high temperature, throbbing pain, copious green discharge) then they may have a role.
Colds – Part 1 – Feeling Better
Colds are not just a disease of your nose.
Like any viral infection, they make a lot of inflammatory chemicals that will make you feel rotten.
Paracetamol is one of the most effective ways to block these chemicals and feel better.
As with any medication, don’t expect it to work if you are not taking it regularly – four times a day in this case.
Also make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids.
Colds – Part 2 – Opening your nose
Nasal blockage is miserable and prevents medication delivery and nasal washing.
The most effective treatments for short-term nasal blockage are nasal spray decongestants.
THEY MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE IF YOU USE THEM FOR MORE THAN A WEEK THOUGH (see Rhinitis Medicamentosa).
I recommend Xylometazoline nasal spray twice daily. This is best administered by spraying then laying to look at the ceiling for 5 minutes.
Colds – Part 3 – Washing your nose
Finally, you want to clear out all the inflammatory debris in your nose.
Blowing your nose is a start, but it can cause some congestion, and steam or menthol inhalation can (occasionally) be harmful.
Salt water washing, especially while taking a shower is generally much preferred.
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