Good hygiene is best weapon against catching colds and flu

IT'S that time of year. Temperatures are dropping, but yours has risen. Plus you've developed a sniffle and sore throat and feel generally terrible.

Have you come down with the flu or just a cold or maybe it's the start of something much more serious, some nasty bacteria? How can you tell and what can you do about it?

Colds and flu are caused by different viruses. Antibiotics are definitely out in treating them - they have no effect and will just build up an immunity in your body against them when they're really needed for bacterial infections.

Prevention is the best medicine and good hygiene is the best weapon in your defence.

You can tell you have a cold when you have a sore throat, run a temperature, sneeze, cough and have a blocked or runny nose.

The treatment is just as the old joke says - take an aspirin and go to bed and it will clear up in seven days; see a doctor and it will clear up in a week. However, if you're still suffering after 10 days, then definitely go see your doctor. It could be something more sinister.

Flu is more severe and lasts longer than a cold. You'll still have the fever, sore throat and runny/blocked nose. In addition you can expect a dry, chesty cough, headache, tiredness, aching muscles, loss of appetite and difficulty in sleeping.

If you're normally healthy, there's no real need to see the doctor. However, if you're over 65, have a long-term medical condition, weakened immune system, or if the symptoms get worse after 10 days, head off to the doctor to have it investigated.


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