Queens Medical Centre

Opening hours Monday to Friday (8am to 6pm)

Queens Medical Centre

Opening hours Mon to Fri (8am to 6pm)

About Colds and Viruses

 

What is a COLD or UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION?

The common cold and most upper respiratory infections are caused by infection with germs (viral infections).  They usually get better in a week or two.

 

What causes a COLD or UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION

A cold is an infection of the nose and upper airways caused by a germ (virus).  They are extremely common.  An adult can expect 2-4 colds a year and a child can expect about 5-6 colds a year.  Very young children in nursery school may get as many as 12 colds a year.  Many different viruses can cause a cold.  This is why colds come back (recur) and immunisation against colds is not possible.

 

To learn more about colds, click here.

 

To learn more about upper respiratory tract infections, click here.

 

Do I have a COLD or UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTION?

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 and loss of taste and smell. The symptoms are the same in adults and children.  Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.

 

To use a symptom checker, click here.

 

What treatment is available ?

Colds are caused by viruses.  Antibiotics do not relieve symptoms or speed up your recovery.  Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections.  To help you get better quickly you should have plenty of rest and sleep, keep warm, drink plenty of water (to avoid dehydration) and gargle salt to soothe a sore throat.  You can also 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 and 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 tables as it's easy to take more than the recommended dose.  Some are not suitable for children, babies and pregnant women.  There is little evidence that supplements (such as vitamin C, echinacea or garlic) prevent colds or speed up recovery.

 

Please note, your GP surgery cannot treat a normal cold or upper respiratory tract infection.  Relevant treatment is available from your local pharmacy. 

 

However, you should contact us if:

 

  • your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks
  • your symptoms get suddenly worse
  • your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
  • you are concerned about your child's symptoms
  • you are finding it hard to breathe or develop chest pain
  • you have a long-term medical condition, for example, diabetes or a heart, lung, kidney or neurological disease
  • you have a weakened immune system, for example, because you're having chemotherapy

 

To learn more about coughs and colds in children, click here.