For most adults, it’s two or three colds, while children get between six and 10 colds per year. Influenza is more severe, but not as widespread: about one percent of New Zealanders see their doctor about the flu annually.
While colds still remain something of a mystery to science, the symptoms are all too familiar:
The flu, on the other hand, hits rapidly and is characterised by a high fever and feeling extremely tired. You may find yourself shivery, with a painful headache and aching muscles.
Unlike for the common cold, you can be immunised against the flu each year. Flu shots are available at your local Unichem if you’re aged 18-plus – just come in when it’s convenient, no appointment necessary.
A cold or the flu can make you feel miserable, but there are plenty of ways you can ease your symptoms. Day-and-night cold and flu tablets, cough mixture and nasal spray can be very useful for helping you feel better as the virus makes its way through your system.
For a sore throat, have a sheet of lozenges at hand or a throat spray to numb the pain, and for more general pains, paracetamol is usually effective. Watch out for a double-up though – if you’re already taking a day-and-night tablet, you’re probably getting plenty of paracetamol already.
The best idea is to keep your cold at home but most of us don’t stay home from work to rest. If you do go to work, here are some steps to take to keep from getting someone else’s cold or spreading yours:
Because both illnesses are caused by viruses, antibiotics won’t get rid of a cold or the flu. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to see a doctor. It’s possible to get secondary complications, and they can turn serious. If you have symptoms of a cold or flu for more than a week, your symptoms take a turn for the worse, or you have a cough that just won’t go away, see your doctor. Babies and young children, pregnant women and the elderly should visit the doctor at the first sign of suspected flu.
The younger the child, the more difficult it is to treat their cold, particularly because few medications are safe for youngsters. If your baby or toddler has a cold, try these tips: