Medical information for patients


If you develop a runny nose, with or without a sore throat, cough, a slightly raised temperature, tender glands in your neck, and aches and pains, you are likely to have one of the thousands of "common cold" viruses. There is no cure for most viruses. A doctor cannot do more for you than you can do for yourself, although you may feel awful and wish that he could.


The best thing to do is to stay at home, keep drinking, even if you don't feel like eating, and take regular paracetamol, aspirin (only over the age of 16), or ibuprofen, to help the aches and pains and also to help reduce any fever. Some proprietary preparations contain one of these plus a decongestant. These may be just the right thing, and often make up into a drink which also helps to stop you becoming dehydrated.

It is important, however, to remember that there is a maximum safe dose of the various drugs, and you should not take medications in combination unless you are sure that you are not exceeding the maximum dose of any of the constituents. For example if using the top recommended dose of a hot lemon cold treatment containing paracetamol, you should not take paracetamol in addition. If in doubt, consult your pharmacist.

Most colds and upper respiratory virus infections only last for a few days. An antibiotic will not help if the cause is a virus, which it most often is, and may indeed make you feel worse. Antibiotics have a small risk of side effects, sometimes major ones. On most occasions little can be gained from going in to your doctor's office or calling the doctor out to visit you, and nature will effect a cure, while you cope with the symptoms with the remedies mentioned above or some of the more old-fashioned ones:

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