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Coughs and sneezes spread diseases #life

coughs and colds

The slogan “coughs and sneezes spread diseases” was used when I was young to encourage people to use a handkerchief when they coughed or sneezed.  We can use tissues today but the advice is still good.

If you have a cold your body will produce mucus in your nose and bronchial tubes, so you nose will run and you’ll cough up mucus in an attempt to get rid of the virus. Your immune system might raise your temperature to make your body a less pleasant place for the virus, but it will also make you feel a little unpleasant too. At the height of this battle between your immune system and the virus, your throat might become painful as your immune system brings out it’s heavy weapons. A painful throat is a good sign, you will probably start to get better now.

A natural way to kill the virus is to use salt water. You can gargle with it or even squirt it up your nose. Blowing your nose and coughing up any phlegm will also help clear the passages and get rid of the virus.

In the old days, people used to rub their chest with Vick or put it in a bowl of boiling water and a towel over their heads and breathe in the steam. Again you’re raising the temperature and killing the virus. The Vick also makes your nose run even more. Vapour drops will help your nose run more and clear it and they are available from pound shops. You might also get an inhaler that does the same thing.

The obvious thing to do when you have a cold or flu is to keep warm, you can get very shivery if you have a temperature and you get cold. Keeping warm helps your body keep your temperature high to kill the virus.


If you get a really high fever you might like to take an antifebrile such as paracetamol to bring your temperature down. This is also found in products like Lemsip, that combine the modern technical approach with the old fashioned remedy which was making hot lemonade using real lemons that were cut up into a jug, sugar added was added and boiling water poured over them. This was allowed to cool but was drank warm.


A cough that is getting rid of phlegm is good, but a persistent tickly cough is irritating and not helping. An effective cough suppressant for a tickly cough is a codeine linctus. Codeine, together with paracetamol is also in Solpadine, the soluble analgesic. That can ease the pain in your throat and painful joints, bring down your temperature and suppress a tickly cough too.

The Pharmacist

The pharmacist can help by suggesting different medicines. Codeine linctus for a tickly cough or an expectorant for bronchitis. They can also advise on medicines for people who are diabetic or who have other health conditions.

The doctor

If you’re worried try calling your surgery because now many doctors will do a consultation over the phone. It saves you going out in the cold and doesn’t spread the virus to other people. If for example you get severe pain when breathing, you might have bronchitis or even pleurisy, so seek further help and advice. A very high fever could be pneumonia in vulnerable people like the elderly, so call a doctor.

Online advice

You can read online advice on the NHS website. It is important to get more advice when it is a vulnerable person like a child or an elderly person who needs treatment.

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