Coping with the common cold

It’s that time of year. The mornings are getting darker, you’ve had to dig out your coat from the back of the wardrobe and your Vans just won’t cut it as suitable footwear anymore. Never mind ‘winter is coming’, Jon Snow – it’s bloomin’ well here.

And with the cold, dark, damp days comes the sniffles, snot and sneeze. It’s cold and flu season.

If you’re aware of your classmates coughing and spluttering as you try get your head around standard deviation, or that guy on the bus decided to sneeze in your face this morning, you’re probably next in line for a dose of the cold.

So how exactly are you supposed to deal with the most common of ailments that has no cure? (Get a move on, science.) We’ve got a few survival tips to get you through…

1. Stay hydrated

Your mum isn’t at it when she squawks, “DRINK PLENTY OF WATER!” It’s crucial to remain hydrated when your body’s battling a cold. And we mean water – you can add some flavour with some squash if you fancy. Diet Coke ain’t going to cut it – it’ll only make you more dehydrated.

2. Take a break

Rest is crucial. If your body’s going to battle off the bugs, it’s going to need all the energy you’ve got. So take it easy. Have a nap. Read a book. Cancel that gym session! You’ve got our full permission. In all seriousness, though – look after yourself. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of #selfcare, especially when you’re under the weather.

3. Eat healthily

Fresh fruit and veg, low fat, high fibre, dodge sugary sweet things…  You know the drill. It’s how you know you should be eating normally, but it’s more important when you’re sick. Filling your body with nutrients and vitamins will boost your immune system, and your body’s ability to fight off infection.

4. Sneeze into your elbow

To reduce the risk of passing on your snottiness, you should really stay off school or work. If you can’t do that, though, try minimise the chances of infecting others by sneezing either into your elbow or a tissue – and bin it. Keep some hand sanitiser on you too to zap those bugs.

5. Reach for the tablets

If you’ve got a sore throat, sore head, blocked nose… There’s no shame in raiding your mum’s medicine cabinet for help (while reading the packet instructions). Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce your temperature and beat pain at the same time, while decongestants can help with stuffy noses or blocked sinuses.

6. Look out for flu symptoms

We live in a country where old folk like to refer to a cold as ‘the flu’, when it isn’t. If you’ve got the flu, you know about it. While a cold consists of a sore throat, blocked or runny nose, coughing, sneezing, a sore throat and generally feeling a bit run down, flu comes with a high temperature, tiredness and weakness, chills, muscle pain, a dry, chesty cough, headaches, aches and pains, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and you’ll not really be able to get out of bed. If you have the flu? Get to bed and try avoid other people. It’s really contagious, and you don’t want to pass that on. If you start to feel really unwell, contact NHS 24.

7. Get the flu vaccine

If you want to avoid flu altogether, it might be a good idea to get vaccinated against it. It’s recommended that certain people get the vaccine – babies and children, older people, people with chronic medical conditions, and carers – because they’re seen as being more vulnerable to it. You’ll be able to get it free of charge through your GP, or if you don’t qualify, most chemists will vaccinate you for about £10 to £13.

For more information on  staying fit and healthy over the winter, head to

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