Suffering from a sore throat, runny nose or headache? There's no denying it: cold and flu season is upon us. But what's the difference between a cold and the full-blown flu, what's the best way to treat both and how can you speed up recovery?
There is no cure for the common cold, but there are a few steps you can take to boost your immune system to help fight off the coughs and colds and even shorten their duration. Our resident pharmacist Rita Ghelani gives the lowdown on the five most reliable over-the-counter products for cold and flu:
What's the difference between cold and flu?
Although symptoms may vary, many cold and flu symptoms and treatment options are similar:
🍋 Common cold symptoms
If you have a common cold you may typically experience one or more of the following:
- A runny or stuffed up nose
- Sore throat
- Generally feeling unwell
🍋 Flu symptoms
Flu symptoms can be similar to a cold, but the telltale signs of flu usually come on much more quickly than a cold and are generally more severe. Flu is an infectious viral illness and flu symptoms often include the following:
- A sudden fever (30-40°C).
- Muscle aches and pains.
- A dry cough and excessive sneezing.
- It's also common for people suffering from flu to feel incapable of getting out of bed or going about their daily routine.
Cold and flu remedies
While there is no quick-fix cure for a cold or the flu, you can look after yourself at home. Try these simple but effective ways to help protect yourself and others from infections:
✔️ Rest up.
✔️ Drink plenty of fluids.
✔️ Eat healthy foods. Opt for hearty soups if you have a sore throat!
✔️ Practice good hygiene such as using tissues to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
✔️ Wash your hands more often.
✔️ Using a hand gel during the cold and flu will also help to slow the spread of cold and viruses.
5 best cold and flu treatment products
Aside from paracetamol (and plenty of rest!) the following remedies should help fight cold and flu symptoms and get you back on your feet:
This oral spray forms a protective active enzyme barrier on the mucous membrane (a moist tissue that protects against infection) in your throat, making it more difficult for the cold virus to cause illness. It can help shorten the duration of a cold by acting on the cold virus itself rather than just relieve symptoms. BUY NOW
2. Vicks First Defence
Targeting viruses before symptoms worsen, this nasal spray is designed to be used at the first sign of a cold. The spray traps, inactivates and helps your body naturally remove the cold virus before it gets a chance to develop. BUY NOW
⚠️ If flu symptoms persist for more than a week or start to get worse, make an appointment with your GP.
3. Stop & Protect Cold and Sinus Relief
Made for very blocked noses using natural ingredients, Stop & Protect nasal spray helps relieve symptoms of a cold, rhinitis or sinusitis. It also prevents further developments and attacks by forming a protective film on the nasal mucous membrane. BUY NOW
4. Boots Dual Defence Nasal Spray
Containing Carragelose – a polymer containing unique anti-viral properties – use Boots Dual Defence Nasal Spray at the first sign of cold symptoms to help shorten the duration and severity of colds and flu. BUY NOW
5. Flu Vaccine
One surefire way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. You can get a flu vaccine at your local pharmacy. You are eligible for a free flu vaccination if you are pregnant, aged 65 and over or have certain medical conditions, including:
- Chronic lung disease, including asthma.
- Chronic kidney, liver, heart or neurological diseases.
- HIV infection.
- An underactive immune system, either due to disease or treatment.