If you have a runny nose, aches, and shakes and are losing your voice, you undoubtedly have a common cold. Even a mild attack of Influenza causes great discomfort and if neglected, may pave the way for pneumonia.
Your misery drives you to seek succor and sympathy. There isn’t any. You need patience and care.
Either paracetamol or aspirin should be taken as the best available medicines for the aches and fever of the common cold. Colds, flu, and coronavirus are caused by viruses. Neither antibiotics nor any other drugs kill these viruses.
Boost your immune system
All that you can do is relieve the symptoms and boost your immune system to destroy the virus itself.
You need more fluid if you have a fever. Be sure you get enough. Fluids help keep the mucus more liquid and help prevent complications such as bronchitis and ear infection.
A word about chicken or beef broth: dizziness when standing is common with colds and is helped by drinking salty liquids. Clear soups are excellent.
If symptoms persist for more than two weeks, see the doctor.
Only a minority of sore throats are caused by bacteria which can be killed by antibiotics. Most are caused by viruses and doctors can offer no more than the soothing treatment that can be carried out at home.
Home treatment: Chemists stock a vast array of throat lozenges. Many contain antiseptic, but these do not seem to help any more than the soothing throat pastilles containing honey, black currant or other fruit extracts.
If pastilles or soothing drinks do not seem to help much, and especially if there is associated fever or muscular aches and pains, gargle four times a day with two soluble aspirin tablets dissolved in half a glass of warm water, swallowing the mixture after gargling.
If you can’t take aspirin, use a saltwater gargle of half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water, spitting out the fluid, and take paracetamol to relieve pains; if the sore throat persists for more than a week, see your doctor.
If persistent hoarseness is not associated with either a viral infection or with smoking, it should be investigated by the doctor. Persistent hoarseness has many causes; the most common are cysts or polyps on the vocal cords. Yes, cancer is a cause but is relatively rare.
Home treatment: Hoarseness is very resistant to any sort of therapy. Nature must heal the inflamed area. Using an inhalation or simply taking fluids will give relief.
In general, wait for healing to occur after the viral infection has passed or irritation from smoking has ceased. Rest the vocal cords by talking as little as possible and shouting not at all.
The coughing reflex is one of the body’s best defense mechanisms. It helps clear material from the breathing tubes.
This material is often abnormal, such as pus, and if coughing is helping to get rid of it then the cough is desirable. Such a cough is termed “productive” and should not be suppressed by medication.
Home treatment: The mucus in the breathing tubes may be made thinner by several means. Increased humidity in the air will help. For the “croupy” coughs of small children high humidity is essential first aid.
It can be provided by sitting the child in a bathroom with a door and windows closed and running hot water in the shower or bath, or boiling a kettle in the room. Ring the doctor for advice straight away if a child has difficulty with breathing and a croupy cough – even if late at night.
Inhalations of steam with Vicks Vapor Rub or Karvol will help most coughs. A warm soothing drink before bedtime will make the patient more comfortable. Many cough medicines are available from the chemist. Ask his advice if you wish to buy one.
The rules for the prevention of flu or COVID-19 are the same as those for the prevention of colds and other respiratory diseases.
During an epidemic, do your best to avoid careless coughs and sneezes, stay out of crowds as much as possible so that your body will be strong enough to conquer an occasional small invasion of the virus.