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How to treat colds and flu at home

Young family in bed with little girl holding a laptop
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Top tips to help you ease your symptoms

Alongside the colder weather and darker evening, the arrival of the autumn and winter brings with it colds and flu. For most of us, we can treat colds and flu at home without seeing a GP. But there are some things you can do to help yourself get better.

How to treat a cold

If you have a cold, you might have symptoms including a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat, a headache, muscle aches and coughs and sneezing.

To treat a cold at home, the NHS recommends you:

  • Get plenty of rest and sleep
  • Keep warm
  • Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, fruit juice or squash mixed up
  • If you have a sore throat, try to gargle salt water

Looking after yourself when you have the flu

Flu symptoms can come on very quickly and include a high temperature, an aching body, a dry cough, sore throat and loss of appetite. If you have kids, the symptoms of flu are similar, but they can also get pain in their ear and appear less active.

Like with a cold, there are ways you can treat a flu at home.The NHS recommends:

  • Resting and sleeping
  • Wrapping up and staying warm
  • Drinking plenty of water to help you stay hydrated
  • Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to help lower your temperature and treat any aches and pains

If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell and taste, it could be coronavirus. Get advice about coronavirus symptoms and what to do here.

Cold and flu medications you could try

From decongestants to help relieve a blocked nose to pain relief for those aches and pains and help to lower a temperature. There are over the counter cold and flu medications you could try:

Make sure you’re careful when using cold and flu remedies if you’re taking paracetamol and ibuprofen as it’s easy to take more than the recommended dose without realising. Some cold and flu relief aren’t suitable for children, babies and pregnant women. For more advice, speak to your pharmacist in-store or over the phone.

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References

Always read the label, and ask our pharmacists for advice.

www.nhs.uk/conditions/common-cold
www.nhs.uk/conditions/flu