What to look out for
While the first symptom of a cold is usually a sore throat, it is followed by symptoms that include sneezing, a blocked nose or a runny nose which is normally clear at the start before becoming thicker and darker before the infection clears.
Sneezing spreads the germs that cause colds so it is important not to pass the illness on to others. You can avoid passing on your cold by sneezing into a tissue, binning the tissue immediately and washing your hands afterwards.
Watch our video about Coping with a Cold on the right, featuring advice from Dr Andrew Murphy from Galway.
What can you do
With a cold you will usually feel worse during the first two to three days before gradually starting to improve. The symptoms in adults and older children usually last for about a week.
Colds tend to last longer in children under five – typically between 10-14 days. Many children will lose their appetite when they have a cold. This should only last for a few days and children with a cold should only eat when hungry.
Talk to your pharmacist, who can give you advice on over the counter products that may help your symptoms. You can ask about ibuprofen or paracetamol for pain and fever, and other medicines that may help with a blocked nose or sinuses.
When to seek help
Do not take antibiotics for a cold as they will not help you to get any better any fast, and they may do damage. Colds are caused by viruses and antibiotics cannot treat viruses.
Usually you do not need to see the doctor. Most colds can be treated at home. Drink plenty of fluids, get lots of rest and eat healthily. Resume normal activities when you feel well enough. Eat well, a low fat, high fibre diet is recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
For more information on colds visit the main HSE website by clicking here.
As you can probably guess, this website can never replace the advice you might get from a health professional. While we aim to give you the best advice we can, if you are at all worried about yourself or your child, please call or visit your GP or your Pharmacist.
We hope you feel better soon!