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Who is most at risk from cold and flu symptoms?

Who is most at risk from cold and flu symptoms?

A cold or flu is unpleasant for anyone, but some groups are more at risk of complications (such as ear, sinus or chest infections).

These groups include the elderly, pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems and those with long-term medical conditions. If you're in one of these groups, you should seek your GP's advice you're worried about cold or flu symptoms.

When should you visit a doctor for your symptoms?

Which should you visit a doctor for your symptoms?

Visit a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms and are concerned:

• A high temperature above 39°C

• Sharp chest pains

• Difficulty breathing 

• Swollen glands in your neck and/or armpits 

• Severe earache 

• If your symptoms last longer than three weeks for cold symptoms, or seven days for flu symptoms

Which treatments don’t work for colds and flu?

Which treatments don't work for colds and flu?

Antibiotics won't treat cold or flu symptoms, as these conditions are caused by a viral infection, not bacterial.

How are flu symptoms treated and managed?

How are flu symptoms treated and managed?

If you’re otherwise healthy, there should be no need to visit your doctor if you have the flu. As with a cold, the best way to recover is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. It may help to take cold relief remedies for the cold-like symptoms you have with flu. 

You can take over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol to decrease a high temperature and relieve aches if necessary. Ask your pharmacist for more information about medicines for flu relief. 

For a faster recovery - and, importantly, to avoid spreading the virus, it’s best to stay home from work or school until your symptoms improve. For most people, this takes at least a week.

How are cold symptoms treated and managed?

How are cold symptoms treated and managed?

There's no cure for the cold, but symptoms tend not to be long lasting and will clear up on their own. You can help to relieve cold symptoms by:

1. Resting, drinking plenty of fluids and eating a balanced diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables

2. Taking painkillers

3. Using decongestant sprays or tablets to help relieve a blocked nose 

4. Gargling salt water and sucking on lozenges to help relieve a sore throat 

5. A cough mixture may also help to soothe a troublesome cough

Talk to your pharmacist about which treatments will be most suitable for you, as not all over the counter treatments are suitable for everyone.

What are the symptoms of the flu?

What are the symptoms of the flu?

Flu is a widespread infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. While symptoms generally resolve within a week, it can last longer. 

Cold-like symptoms can be signs of the flu, although they tend to be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

1. A sudden high temperature (fever) of 38°C or above 

2. Tiredness and weakness 

3. A headache 

4. General aches and pains 

5. A dry, chesty cough

What are the symptoms of the common cold?

What are the symptoms of the common cold?

Colds are caused by a virus and very common - they usually clear up within a week. The main symptoms of a cold include:

1. A sore throat 

2. A blocked or runny nose 

3.  Sneezing 

4. A cough 

Symptoms, such as a fever, headache and aching muscles can occasionally occur as well, although these tend to be more commonly associated with the flu. 

How do probiotics help my immune system?

How do probiotics help my immune system?

Approximately 70% of the immune system is controlled by the gut. Gut-friendly bacteria are an essential part of the immune system, as these bacteria regulate the immune system by increasing the number of white blood cells.

How do multivitamins help my immune system?

How do multivitamins help my immune system?

Adequate micronutrients in the body help the immune system to function best. When there is a deficiency of micronutrients in the body, immunity is surpressed, leaving the body susceptible to infections 

How does iron help my immune system?

How does iron help my immune system?

Iron is an essential mineral that helps to transport oxygen throughout the body, and is fundamental to the growth of B cells and T cells, which are major cellular components of the body's immune response.

How does zinc help boost my immunity?

How does zinc help boost my immunity?

Zinc has the natural ability to help the immune system function efficiently. Zinc is needed for white blood cells to function optimally, in order to protect the body from illness and infection.

How does Vitamin C help boost my immunity?

How does Vitamin C help boost my immunity?

As essential nutrient, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, a molecule known to damage the immune system.

How does Vitamin D help my immune system?

How does Vitamin D help my immune system?

Our bodies need enough Vitamin D to produce the antimicrobial proteins that kill viruses and bacteria. If we don't have adequate Vitamin D, our bodies are less effective at producing these proteins and more prone to illness.

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

What do I do if I think I have COVID-19?

1. Stay home, except to seek medical care.

2. Separate yourself from other people at home - stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom, if possible.

3. Monitor your symptoms - most common are fever and cough, and follow the care instructions from a medical professional or the Department of Health. If you have trouble breathing, seek medical care.

4. Call ahead before visiting a doctor, or opt for a telephonic consultation.

5. Wear a cloth mask covering your nose and mouth, and sneeze and cough into a tissue when you need to.

6. Wash your hands often - with soap and water for 20 seconds, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

7. Avoid sharing personal household items.

8. Clean all high-touch household items and surfaces frequently.

How do I stay safe when at the ATM or petrol station?

How do I stay safe when at the ATM or petrol station?

1. Bank online wherever possible. 

2. When using an ATM, wipe the keypad with hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipe before using. Disinfect your hands with a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol after using the ATM.

3. Use disinfecting wipes on all handles and buttons at the petrol station before using. Once done, disinfect your hands with a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

How can I accept deliveries and take-out food safely?

How can I accept deliveries and take-out food safely?

1. Pay ahead of time or online, if possible.

2. Accept deliveries without in-person contact, where possible. Ask for deliveries to be handed over at a safe space outside your house, and stay 2m away from the delivery person.

3. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after accepting a delivery.

How can I stay safe when going to the doctor or pharmacy?

How can I stay safe when going to the doctor or pharmacy?

1. Choose a telephonic or virtual doctor's appointment, if possible.

2. If you must visit the doctor in person, protect yourself and others - wear a mask, don't touch your face, and adhere to social distancing guidelines.

3. If you think you have COVID-19, phone the doctor's offices before visiting, so they can advise you on the necessary steps to take.

4. If you have to visit the pharmacy, plan to order and collection all your prescriptions at the same time, to avoid unnecessary visits.

5. Ask your pharmacist or doctor if you can collect a larger supply of your necessary medication to avoid having to visit the pharmacy as often. 

How can I stay safe when shopping for food and essentials?

How can I stay safe when shopping for food and essentials?

1. Order any items you can online, if possible.

2. When at the shops, stay at least two meters away from others and try and avoid shopping at peak times.

3. Wear a mask and do not touch your face.

4. Use contactless payment methods, if possible - for example, tap your card instead of handling cash or the keypad.

5. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home.

 
Can coronavirus spread through food?

Can coronavirus spread through food?

It's unlikely that the virus is spread through food. Coronaviruses typically spread through respiratory droplets on hands, and then touching the face. It's important to always ensure that meat and eggs are cooked properly, and handled properly during preparation. Follow good hand hygiene before, during and after cooking and eating. Avoid sharing utensils and eating from shared plates.

 
Can antibiotics kill the virus?

Can antibiotics treat COVID-19?

No, as COVID-19 is caused by a virus, and antibiotics do not work against any viruses. 

 
Are antihistamines still safe to take?

Are antihistamines still safe to take?

While it is important not to mistake hayfever symptoms for COVID-19, there is currently no evidence strong enough to suggest not taking any prescribed medication or medication that you would normally purchase over the counter to treat hayfever.

 
Does taking ibuprofen worsen the virus?

Does taking ibuprofen worsen the virus?

There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make COVID-19 worse, but until we have more information, we advise that you take paracetamol to treat any symptoms, unless your doctor has told you that paracetamol is not suitable for you. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory on the advice of a doctor, you shouldn't stop taking it without their approval.

What is COVID-19?

What is COVID-19?

The COVID-19 virus is an infectious disease caused by a new type of coronavirus, which was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses (illnesses of the lungs) and include the common cold. The word ‘corona’ is Latin for ‘crown’; these viruses were named for the crown-like spikes scientists can see when viewing them under an electron microscope.

Who is most at risk of getting the COVID-19 virus?

Who is most at risk of getting the COVID-19 virus?

While absolutely anyone who comes into contact with this new type of coronavirus can contract it, people with weakened immune systems, those who have underlying health conditions – such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease – and the elderly face the highest risk of developing moderate to very severe symptoms if they get it.

How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

How does the COVID-19 virus spread?

An infected person spreads the virus via respiratory droplets – tiny droplets of liquid that leave their body when they cough or sneeze. Others pick up the virus if they are close enough to inhale these tiny droplets.

You can also become infected by touching surfaces on which these droplets may have landed and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands thoroughly. This is why it’s so important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and to avoid touching your face, in order to protect yourself and others from this new and rapidly spreading coronavirus.

What are the signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus?

What are the signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus?

According to the Department of Health, the most common symptoms are fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Some but not all infected people may experience aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, a sore throat or diarrhoea.

In most cases, these symptoms are mild and come on slowly. Some people contract the COVID-19 virus but do not experience any symptoms whatsoever. These people can still pass on the virus, which is why it’s important for everyone to practice preventative measures. 

The majority of those infected – about 80 per cent – recover without any special treatment. However, an estimated one in every six people infected by the COVID-19 virus will become very sick and experience difficulty breathing. In severe cases, pneumonia may develop; in critical cases, multiple organ failure may occur. 

How is the COVID-19 virus treated?

How is the COVID-19 virus treated?

While there are numerous trials taking place around the world, there is no specific antiviral medication available, so treatment is currently ‘supportive’. This means that – just as with the flu – you’ll be prescribed medication to treat your symptoms until they pass. For example, you may be given medication to lower your fever. In severe cases that require hospitalisation, patients may be given oxygen to help them breathe.

Antibiotics do not treat viral infections. However, antibiotics may be necessary if you develop a secondary infection.

How is the COVID-19 virus diagnosed?

How is the COVID-19 virus diagnosed?

A healthcare worker will collect a sample for testing, usually by wiping your nose, mouth, or the back of your throat with what looks like a big earbud. This sample will be sent to a laboratory to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. According to the NICD guidelines, if you test positive, the result will be confirmed by another test. If you test negative, the test will be repeated to verify the result. It can take up to 48 hours to get a confirmed result.

If you think you might have the virus, contact your healthcare provider to find out if you should be tested and the best way to go about this. You can also call the Department of Health’s 24-hour coronavirus hotline on 0800 029 999.

How can I prevent infection?

How can I prevent infection?

There are several simple and effective measures you can take to protect yourself, your family and others from infection, including frequent and thorough hand washing, refraining from touching your face, always sneezing and coughing into your elbow or a tissue, and social distancing.

What precautions can I take post lockdown to reduce my risk of infection at work?

What precautions can I take post lockdown to reduce my risk of infection at work?

1. Avoid mass gatherings - including cafeterias and conferences

2. Double down on hygiene practices and be mindful about what you touch - wash your hands every time you touch a doorknob or press the lift buttons.

3. Practice physical distancing at work, and ensure you keep at least two meters between you 

4. Take a protection and safety kit with you, including a face mask, hand sanitizer, hand soap, gloves, toilet seat sanitizer and tissues

5. Go digital, which not only saves paper, but also reduces the risk of coming in contact with papers that other people may have handled

6. Commuting to work - remember to wear a face mask, especially if you take public transport

 
What precautions can I take post lockdown to reduce my risk of infection at work?

What precautions can I take post lockdown to reduce my risk of infection at work?

1. Avoid mass gatherings - including cafeterias and conferences

2. Double down on hygiene practices and be mindful about what you touch - wash your hands every time you touch a doorknob or press the lift buttons.

3. Practice physical distancing at work, and ensure you keep at least two meters between you 

4. Take a protection and safety kit with you, including a face mask, hand sanitizer, hand soap, gloves, toilet seat sanitizer and tissues

5. Go digital, which not only saves paper, but also reduces the risk of coming in contact with papers that other people may have handled

6. Commuting to work - remember to wear a face mask, especially if you take public transport

 
Who can I contact for more information?

Who can I contact for more information?

Follow the advice given by your healthcare provider, the Department of Health and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on how to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus. Call the Department of Health’s 24-hour coronavirus hotline on 0800 029 999.

Could you become infected from just a single particle of coronavirus?

Could you become infected from just a single particle of coronavirus?

There’s a certain amount of viral particle that you need to be exposed to become infected. If you just had one viral particle on your finger, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be infected. Some viruses are very potent, where you only need exposure to a few particles in order to be infected, while other viruses require you to be exposed to millions of particles for infection to occur. Simply, the fewer viral particles you’re exposed to, the less likely you’re going to get infected. That’s why the amount of virus on a surface is important.

Is there any way to know whether someone has had COVID-19 in the past?

Is there any way to know whether someone has had COVID-19 in the past?

At this point, there isn’t a way to test if someone has had COVID-19 in the past. Antibody tests to check for a prior infection are being developed, but are not yet ready for clinical use. The only definitive way to know that you’ve had COVID-19 is to get tested while you are still showing symptoms.

Could I have had COVID-19 and been asymptomatic?

Could I have had COVID-19 and been asymptomatic?

Coronavirus has a wide spectrum of symptoms, from people who are entirely asymptomatic and would have no idea that they have it to people with very mild, cold-like symptoms – runny nose, congestion, sore throat – to people with more flu-like symptoms – high fevers, muscle aches, shortness of breath and cough. The most serious cases see patients admitted to hospital with respiratory failure and requiring ICU care.

Are people who are asymptomatic also contagious?

Are people who are asymptomatic also contagious?

People are likely contagious one or two days before they start showing symptoms, as well as a few days after symptoms have resolved.

Should someone behave differently if they think they have had COVID-19?

Should someone behave differently if they think they have had COVID-19?

Since the only way to know for certain if you have had COVID-19 is to be swabbed and have your test come back positive, it is safer to act as if you hadn’t had it and continue to adhere to government’s lockdown and social distancing rules, and proper hand and health hygiene.

If I’ve had COVID-19, can I get it again?

If I've had COVID-19, can I get it again?

There is not yet any evidence to show that a patient has been infected with COVID-19 more than once. Someone with a normal immune system that can react to the virus and survive, should have immunity for quite some time - at least a year, if not lifelong. There have been reports out of China suggesting people are testing positive for COVID-19 a second time, however, most scientists think it is an issue around the inaccuracy of the testing and not that people are having two separate cases of the disease.