Coughs and Colds

Symptoms of a cold include a blocked or runny nose, a sore throat and coughing.

You can ease cold symptoms by resting, drinking plenty of water and using things like decongestants and painkillers.

Cold symptoms come on gradually and can include:

  • a blocked or runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • coughs
  • sneezing
  • a raised temperature
  • pressure in your ears and face
  • loss of taste and smell

The symptoms are the same in adults and children. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.

To help you get better more quickly:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • drink plenty of water (fruit juice or squash mixed with water is OK) to avoid dehydration
  • gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat

You can buy cough and cold medicines from pharmacies or supermarkets. A pharmacist can advise you on the best medicine.

You can:

  • relieve a blocked nose with decongestant sprays or tablets
  • ease aches or lower a temperature with painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen

Be careful not to use cough and cold medicines if you're taking paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets, as it's easy to take more than the recommended dose.

Some are not suitable for children, babies and pregnant women.

There's little evidence that supplements (such as vitamin C, echinacea or garlic) prevent colds or speed up recovery.


Page last reviewed: 19-12-2017
Next review due:19-12-2020

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