This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078
As the seasons change and the weather gets colder, a little forward planning is all that is needed to give you a fighting chance of staying fit through cold and flu season. In our article below, we will look at the most common conditions at this time of year and some top tips to stay well.
If you have a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, you could be displaying the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). You should visit the NHS 111 website for more information.
Cold symptoms usually come on gradually and can include: a blocked or runny nose; a sore throat headache; muscle ache; coughing; sneezing; a raised temperature; pressure in your ears and face; and a loss of taste and smell.
You can typically manage your symptoms at home and will begin to start feeling better in 1 to 2 weeks.
To help yourself get better more quickly, you should:
- get lots of rest
- keep warm
- drink plenty of water
- gargle saltwater to soothe a sore throat
- decongestant sprays or tablets can help to relieve a blocked nose
- painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can ease aches or lower a temperature
Flu symptoms come on very quickly and can include: a sudden high temperature of 38°c or above; an aching body; feeling tired or exhausted; a dry cough; a sore throat; a headache; difficulty sleeping; loss of appetite; diarrhoea; tummy pain; feeling sick and being sick.
Flu will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill.
To help yourself to get better more quickly, you should:
- get plenty of rest
- keep warm
- drink plenty of water
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains
- manage symptoms with flu remedies
To learn more about the difference between cold and flu, check out our article here.
Damp and cold days can trigger breathing problems in asthma sufferers. The main symptoms of asthma are a whistling sound when breathing; breathlessness; a tight chest; and coughing. The symptoms can temporarily get worse, and this is known as an asthma attack.
You should see your GP if you think you have asthma. They can rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms and work with you to create a treatment plan to manage your symptoms. Your GP will usually diagnose asthma by asking about your symptoms and carrying out some simple tests.
The asthma treatment is usually an inhaler, a small device that you use to breathe in medicines. The main types are reliever inhalers and preventer inhalers. Reliever inhalers are used when needed to quickly relieve asthma symptoms for a short time. Preventer inhalers are used every day to prevent asthma symptoms occurring. Some people may also need to take tablets.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes joint pain and inflammation. It can become aggravated when the weather gets colder and wetter. There are lots of different types of arthritis, so the symptoms will vary depending on the type you have. You should visit your GP if you have symptoms like joint pain, tenderness, and stiffness; inflammation in and around the joints; restricted movement of the joints; warm red skin over the affected joint; weakness; and muscle wasting.
There is currently no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help to slow down the progression of your symptoms. Treatments can include lifestyle changes, medicines to manage pain, physiotherapy, and surgery.
Norovirus is a very contagious stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It is active all year round, but cases spike during winter. It can be very unpleasant, but it usually goes away on its own after about two days.
The main symptoms of norovirus are feeling sick, being sick, and diarrhoea. You may also have a temperature of 38°c or above, a headache and aching arms and legs. Your symptoms will start suddenly 1 to 2 days after being infected.
You can usually manage your symptoms at home. You should stay home until you are symptom free for two days and avoid meeting up with people during this time as it is when you are most infectious.
Stay home and get plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluids, eat when you feel able to, and take paracetamol if you are in discomfort or have a temperature. You should also ensure you are regularly washing your hands with soap and water, washing any clothing or bedding that has faeces or vomit on it, and cleaning toilets (mainly seats and flush handles), taps, surfaces, and door handles every day.
If you are struggling to keep water down or are showing signs of dehydration, or if you need to stop diarrhoea for a few hours, you should speak to a pharmacist. They may recommend oral rehydration sachets to drink or medicine to stop diarrhoea like loperamide.
The change in seasons can trigger allergies. These may last until the start of winter and can be quite unpleasant. To learn more about Autumn Allergies, check our article here.