Common ailments

Common cold

I’ve been coughing and have a stuffy nose and achy muscles. I’m sure that this is just a common cold but what is the best way to get better?

We GPs see more people about a cold than we do for any other ailment, but usually there is nothing we can do apart from recommending paracetamol and rest. Make sure you keep your medicine cabinet well stocked with over-the-counter remedies such as hot flu drinks and paracetamol and talk to your pharmacist for advice if you have any specific symptoms. A prescription for antibiotics will not help you, though as a cold is a viral infection and antibiotics are only effective against bacteria, not viruses.

If you take antibiotics too often the germs in your body change and the effect that antibiotics should have on the bad bacteria in your body is reduced. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can cause untreatable infections so it’s best to avoid taking antibiotics unless your doctor says you really need them.

Having many symptoms such as a blocked nose, sneezing, nasal discharge and coughing are clear signs of a common cold and the best advice is simply to rest and to use over-the-counter remedies. However, if you have a high temperature and the symptoms last longer than a week do seek medical advice as it could mean you have something more serious.

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