Season of sniffles

It's that time of year when everyone around you seems to be sneezing into a tissue, sniffling and generally being unwell. Colds and flu are common illnesses; in fact, every year an adult will have about 2 to 4 colds. The flu is also very common, although very often people confuse the two illnesses. Cold symptoms are coughing and sneezing, bunged up or runny nose and a sore throat. Flu symptoms are a high temperature and fever, aches and pains, shivering and sweating. With a cold you'll feel a bit run down, but with flu you'll find it challenging to even get out of bed.

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It's not necessary to see a doctor when you have a cold or the flu, but what else can you do to make the illness more bearable? There are lots of medicines you can buy over the counter, but there is little evidence to suggest these medicines are very effective. The medicines that do work are aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen. You can also try steam inhalation with some menthol or eucalyptus added to the hot water to aid decongestion. Gargling with salt water can ease sore throats and is supposed to draw out the fluid that causes congestion. Also you need to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids and eat healthily - especially chicken soup!

Antiviral medicines are prescribed when flu symptoms are severe or to people over 65 and those with conditions like asthma. These will reduce the length of time you're ill for and make the symptoms bearable.

To prevent flu there is a vaccination that is freely available to people in high-risk groups. Also to prevent colds and flu make sure you wash your hands regularly and always catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and then bin it.

Have you got any sure-fire cold and flu remedies? Share the wealth here.