THE Irish Pharmacy Union recently issued advice on how best to avoid colds and flu this winter, reminding people that antibiotics will not cure the common cold or flu, which are caused by viral infections.
‘The common cold can make you feel miserable and the flu can put you out of action for a week or more. That’s why it’s well worth taking steps to avoid both this winter,’ according to pharmacist Kathy Maher, president of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU).
‘The flu vaccination is the best way of reducing your chances of getting the flu. Not only can the flu make you unwell, it’s very dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, such as older people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. Ask your pharmacist about getting the flu vaccination. It’s very safe and has proven effective in reducing the incidence of flu over the past number of years,’ said Ms Maher.
She reminded people that ‘antibiotics do not cure the viral cold or flu; they are only needed if you’ve also developed bacteria-related complications. It is best to treat a cold or flu at home by resting, staying warm and drinking lots of fluids. Remember, it can take up to seven days to feel better, so give yourself time to recover.’
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your chances of catching the common cold or flu, such as:
1. Get the flu vaccination
It is the best protection against the flu, especially for people who are at high risk of complications from influenza. Talk to your local pharmacist
2. Hand hygiene
Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs.
3. Stay hydrated
Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
4. Mind your immune system
Keep your immune system strong by getting enough sleep, eating well and taking regular exercise. This will help your body resist these viruses in the first place and fight infection if it occurs.
5. Manage stress
Control stress because it results in a weakened immune system, making you more prone to colds and flu.
6. Keep your distance
Limit contact with infected people until their symptoms have disappeared.
7. Catch it, bin it, kill it
Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the waste basket and wash your hands as soon as possible.
8. Get advice
Get the right treatment – ask your pharmacist about the best over-the-counter medicines to take to relieve your symptoms.