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Coughs & Colds

Sore throats, colds and chest infections are, in the majority of cases, caused by a virus and therefore, antibiotics will make no difference.

Instead, follow these guidelines to help you get over your illness.

6 Handy Hints – for patients aged 12 and over

  1. Have regular (4-6 hourly) doses of soluble Paracetamol.  These are best taken if dissolved in water or juice, gargled and then the liquid mixture is swallowed.  This should help with any pain and/or feverish symptoms.  Ibuprofen can be added for additional control of pain, fever and inflammation.  You should take 200mg to 400mg three times a day after food.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids, but not alcohol.  Food is not necessary, but it is not harmful.
  3. Go to bed if you feel too ill to be up and about.
  4. If your head feels blocked up, use steam to relieve some of the congestion.  You can buy Olbas Oil, Menthol Crystals or Karvol Capsules and add to a small quantity of hot water in a bowl or sink. Put a towel over your head and inhale the steam for 10—15 minutes. This should enable you to blow your nose more freely. This is best done twice a day and afterwards you should wait 30 minutes before going outside.
  5. Get plenty of rest and do not take part in vigorous exercise or sport when you feel feverish.  It is best to avoid swimming until you feel better.
  6. Many products are sold over the counter and often are quite costly. These remedies can often be substituted with inexpensive “home” remedies i.e. “Lemsip” can be substituted with a hot lemon drink and two Paracetamol.

Contact the Practice for a telephone appointment with a GP or Nurse if you show no sign of improvement after 5-7 days, or if you have extreme difficulty swallowing.  Most minor conditions improve spontaneously and are harmless.


If you have asthma and use a regular (brown) inhaler, then double your regular dose whilst you have your cold and for one week afterwards.  Use your reliever (blue) inhaler every four hours if needed.

Seek medical advice if you have to use your reliever inhaler during the night or if you find you are not getting relief for four hours between doses.

More advice

Remember you can contact the Practice for advice during our triage time.  A clinician will be available Monday to Friday 8.00am – 4.00pm.