Cold and Flu
Many customers can have misconceptions about the duration of a cold or flu1
Many customers underestimate the duration of a cold or flu. The worst cold & flu symptoms should be over in 4-5 days but complete recovery can take up to 10 days, and sometimes longer1.
Adults experience an average of 2-4 colds a year2
- The common cold is the conventional term used to describe a mild, self-limited, viral, upper respiratory tract infection.
- It is characterised by nasal stuffiness and discharge, sneezing, sore throat and cough.
- The worst cold & flu symptoms should be over in 4-5 days but complete recovery from a cold or flu can take up to 10 days, and sometimes longer1.
- There is no cure for the common cold, and no medication is licensed to shorten the duration of infection2. Treatment is therefore aimed at symptomatic relief.
- The Common Cold is a self-treatable condition and advice can be sought from pharmacists to help reduce pressure on local GP services.
Symptoms of the common cold
- Congestion caused by an immune response to the cold virus leading to swelling of nasal blood vessels3.
- Rhinorrhoea (runny nose) due to parasympathetic activity stimulating submucosal glands of the nasal mucosa to produce excessive nasal secretions4.
- Sneezing, which often accompanies rhinorrhoea and is thought to occur due to the stimulation of sensory nerve endings in the mucous membrane
- Sinus pressure, caused by a swelling of the sinuses which may lead to a blocked nose, pain and tenderness5.
- Sore throat6
When to refer customers with a cold or flu symptoms to the GP
It is important to highlight to customers that you are able to offer cold & flu advice and product recommendations to help reduce the number of unnecessary GP appointments. There are times when customers will need to be referred to the doctor such as7:
- Upper airway distress – indicated by a harsh vibrating sound while breathing, drooling, or an inability to swallow
- Lower airway distress – indicated by laboured breathing
- Severe headache lasting more than 7 days
- Persistent cough lasting more than 3 weeks
Antibiotics are ineffective for cold & flu viruses1
Customers seeking antibiotics for their cold & flu symptoms may require supportive education around self-treatable conditions and self-care practice1. Self-care advice from NICE7 details:
- Antibiotics are ineffective for cold & flu and may cause adverse reactions
- Adequate fluid should be taken to compensate for fever and mucous secretion
- Remain as active as possible without feeling significant discomfort
- Wash hands with warm water and soap to get rid of any germs that may have been picked up
Treating common cold symptoms
Treatment for the common cold is aimed at symptomatic relief, and includes
- Cough suppressants
- Sore throat lozenges
- Sufferers may also employ comfort measurers and herbal remedies8,9