Continuing on with our A-Z of patient care, this week we bring you 'C is for coughs and colds'. Do you know how to keep your cold to yourself?
Some might say the season to be jolly is truly over with plummeting temperatures and crunchy leaves underfoot, pop-up Christmas markets gone back into hibernation and high-streets packed full of enthusiastic shoppers wielding credit cards chasing a January bargain. Ask a GP, and it’s likely that they’ll say actually, it’s the season of the common cold and their waiting room is filled daily with people of a snotty variety. It’s only when you can’t breathe out of your nose that you truly value your unobstructed nostrils. Whether it’s your mum’s remedy, or it’s your very own concoction, we often have a personalised approach to nursing ourselves back to health in time for our return to work after a festive break.
It’s fair to say most of us know what a cold is, and have definitely had more than just the one over the span of our lives. You’ve had a cough combined with an ever-so-attractive blocked or runny nose and a sore throat. If you have a high temperature, headache and aching muscles on top of the symptoms of a cold, you’ve really struck out and probably have flu.
Netflix and chill when ill
There is a silver-lining to being ill. Boxsets. After you’re done wallowing in self-pity and complaining about your impending sense of FOMO (‘Fear Of Missing Out’), you have the excuse to stay in your bed and watch all of the on-demand television you’ve missed. Contrary to your first instinct to go to the doctor and barter for a prescription for your cold, the best place for you is at home, firmly parked next to plenty of tissue for your leaky nose. You’ll need to be drinking plenty of fluids and healthy food (soups, fruit juice, and grapes spring to mind). If your head feels like it’s jammed firmly between two elevator doors, then over-the-counter paracetamol or ibuprofen should be able to dull the pain. Decongestant sprays, gargling salt water, and menthol sweets might also be helpful. There’s always a friendly pharmacist on hand to advise you, whether it’s for you, your child or your significant other.
Whilst the general advice to stay at home applies to most people, if a cold persists for more than three weeks, you should contact your GP. This is especially the case if your symptoms get worse, you have trouble breathing, experience chest pain or start coughing up bloodstained mucus. It’s important to keep an eye on children and the elderly as well as anyone who might have a lung-condition.
Sharing isn’t always caring
Remember the last time you were on your daily commute, whether train, plane or automobile? Do you recall that person who was incessantly sniffing and sneezing, wiping their nose with their hand, and then touching all the surfaces around them? Don’t be that person. Even once you’re feeling better, you could still be contagious for two weeks. A virus can be caught just by touching a surface where droplets of infection lie, and then by touching your mouth, eyes or nose. People can spread a virus by coming into contact with the skin of someone else who is carrying a virus, or by inhaling tiny drops that are launched into the air if someone coughs or sneezes. Yes, it’s disgusting, but you wouldn’t want to be the reason behind a bus-load of coughing commuters.
- Never has it been so important to wash your hands regularly before you touch your mouth or face, and definitely before you touch any food.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue, and not into your hands. Then throw it away straight away.
- Keep your own cup, plate and utensils until you’re fully recovered.
- Even your towels can spread your virus, so keep yours separate.
How can Vernacare help? We're experts when it comes to infection prevention with our single use system, and our emphasis on making sure we don't cross-contaminate between patients and between patients and staff. Our VernaClean range can also help to disinfect surfaces, making sure to limit the chance of passing on a virus to anyone else. On top of that, The World Health Organisation also offers great advice on hand-washing, and making sure that your hands are really as clean as you think they are.