Common cold - Caidr
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Common cold

Updated 21.06.2022

Most of us have felt the effects of a common cold – adults get one once or twice a year, and children up to six times a year. Many viruses cause the symptoms of a cold, with rhinovirus being the most likely culprit. Symptoms of a cold include sneezing, a runny or blocked nose, sore throat and a cough. A cold is usually mild and you get better after one or two weeks. Currently, COVID-19 is at the forefront of all our minds, so how do you tell them apart? The short answer is that you can’t tell for definite without a swab, but some symptoms point more towards one than the other. Similarities include having a cough, sore throat, tiredness, a runny nose and changes to taste or sense of smell. A fever and breathlessness are more likely to lean towards COVID-19 and sneezing is more likely with a cold. If you have a continuous new cough, a fever or a change in your sense of taste or smell, you should follow government guidance to stay at home and arrange to be tested at a test centre or order a home test.

Doctor’s advice

Is it contagious?

The common cold is contagious. Tiny virus-filled droplets from a cough or sneeze are breathed in by anyone nearby, or the virus can spread simply by talking closely with someone with a cold, or from touching infected surfaces and then touching your face. You are contagious from a couple of days before you develop symptoms until your symptoms have all cleared up. Regular hand washing can lower your chance of catching or passing on a cold. Wearing a face mask can prevent you from passing on the cold virus via droplets you breathe and sneeze out of your mouth and nose.

Caidr pharmacists' top tips

You should rest up with a cold, stay well-hydrated with water or O.R.S and take paracetamol to help with any pain from a sore throat.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have a cold. If you think it’s COVID-19, you should follow government guidelines to stay at home, isolate and arrange for a COVID-19 PCR test.

When should I see my doctor?

There’s usually no need to see a doctor with a cold, as your body overcomes it after one to two weeks and it’s a viral infection, so antibiotics won't help. You could call your doctor for advice if your cold doesn’t improve after two weeks.

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