Stock up your medicines cabinet to get ready for the coughs, colds and flu season

OUR schools are now back in full swing, it’s getting colder and dark nights are kicking in as we head into the cough, cold and flu season. Now is the right time for you to start filling up your medicines cabinet and buying the medicines that will help ease the symptoms of coughs, sore throat, nasal congestion/runny nose and fevers (high temperature).

Coughs and the common cold that start to become a nuisance at this time of year are caused by a viral infection in the upper airways, sinuses, throat, and nose. Although unpleasant, it is generally not a cause for concern. In the vast majority of cases, despite feeling unwell a cough or cold is a self-limiting condition. This means it gets better on its own without requiring any treatment.

My colleagues and I in GP practices across Rotherham do not routinely prescribe any treatments for coughs and colds and we certainly only ever prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections. Most coughs and the common cold viruses will not respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics will not help you get better any faster; neither will they prevent you from passing it on to other people.

I would advise you to treat cough, cold or flu yourself to help you get better more quickly by getting rest and sleep, keeping warm, drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration and gargling salt water to soothe a sore throat. Please do not attend your GP practice or the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre if you have flu-like symptoms — we cannot help you to get better any quicker than treating yourself at home and you are likely to spread germs to people who are potentially vulnerable.

You can readily purchase medicines to ease the symptoms of cough, cold or flu from pharmacies who can also give additional advice. A limited range of medicines are also available from supermarkets and other retail outlets that will help you to relieve a blocked nose with decongestant sprays or tablets and ease aches or lower a temperature with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Please remember — most people get better within one week although, in some cases, it may last longer. If your symptoms do not get better seek advice from a healthcare professional, which can be your local nurse or pharmacist.


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