I think it can largely be agreed that the lockdown and social distancing measures implemented throughout the world during the peaks of the COVID-19 epidemic placed a major strain on people. Whether you were a student struggling to follow the curriculum via frustrating Zoom classes, a parent trying to keep your child focused on those frustrating Zoom classes, whilst ‘working’ alongside them at the kitchen bench. Perhaps you were a business owner desperately trying to pivot your business to work without being face-to-face. Anyway you sliced it, it was a rough time. However, most people accepted the need because it was clear that it was keeping people safe from the virus. An interesting but not overly surprising side effect of the decreased social interaction and the other increased health measures; like masks and increased hand sanitising, was the plunge in cold and flu cases around the world. Shockingly, seasonal influenza has typically killed somewhere between 290,000 to 650,000 people a year globally. During the peak of COVID it practically vanished. However, now that the world has opened up the likelihood of it being prevalent again is really high.
Both COVID-19 and the common cold are caused by viruses and they share many of the same symptoms. If you’re anything like me, the tiniest sign of a scratchy throat over the last few years has instilled a high level of paranoia. The cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose that are typical of the cold or flu are also key symptoms for COVID-19 so if you’re at all unsure then get tested before coming into contact with others.
Apart from the symptoms just mentioned, cold and flu can get way more uncomfortable:
- Body aches
- General fatigue
In other words, it's a miserable time, which, depending on the severity, can last anywhere between three days to three weeks. The real kicker though is that there’s no cure for the common cold. I know. Man’s been to the moon, yet here we are riding out our congestion like 18th century peasants. Don’t despair though because there are plenty of options for treatment to help minimise your suffering whilst you ride it out. Many of them not available to the aforementioned peasantry of the 18th century.
- Hydration. Congestion is the enemy when it comes to cold and flu. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Going for a warm version of those listed above can be soothing and can ease congestion by increasing the flow of mucus. Codral Cold and Flu Hot Drink, which can be added as a sachet to hot water should also provide fast relief to common cold symptoms. A hot tip here is to add some honey for further soothing and antibacterial benefits. Steer clear of what may typically be your favoured beverages; like coffee, alcohol or any other type of caffeinated sodas as these will only dehydrate you further and likely have you feeling worse.
- Rest. It seems obvious, I know but your body needs to rest to recover. Ironically, this can prove to be one of the hardest to implement. If you don’t though, it can stretch out your recovery and possibly create health complications moving forward. Don’t push yourself. Put the feet up and hydrate.
- Soothe a sore throat. Codral Cold and Flu lozenges can really take the edge off a sore throat, which, let's face it, that scratchy throat has to be the least enjoyable of all cold and flu symptoms. The lozenges contain an antibacterial agent and anesthetic so it not only numbs the pain of a sore throat, it also helps to kill any bacteria at the same time. A win-win.
- Stick it to the stuffiness. Saline nasal drops and sprays can be a really great way to relieve stuffiness and congestion. These can be purchased over the counter and are appropriate for adults and older children. If you’ve got a sick infant, experts recommend putting several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. To do this, squeeze the bulb, gently place the syringe tip in the nostril about six to twelve millimeters and slowly release the bulb. This won’t be easy but anything you can do to help minimise the congestion for an infant will be a godsend and the options for infants are far more limited.
- Ease the pain. Congestion can really contribute to headaches. Throw in the potential for aches and fever and the discomfort of a stuffy or runny nose and a cold and flu can be a pretty rough experience. Codral Cold and Flu tablets contain paracetamol, which is an analgesic, designed to inhibit a pain-transmitting enzyme produced in the brain. It also has the added benefit of helping to bring down your temperature if you’re running a fever. The other main ingredient is Phenylephrine. This helps to relieve blocked and runny noses. Now, don’t ignore my earlier advice about resting. Codral Cold and Flu tablets can really help to take the edge off the symptoms and may have you feeling capable of soldiering on but be cautious not to abuse the benefit. The main thing to be aware of here is to not partake in the Codral Night tablets throughout the day as the drowsiness is significant. Save two of these for the evening and enjoy a sleep you wouldn’t be expecting to have otherwise when all congested. Also, be aware that Codral Cold and Flu tablets are only appropriate for people over the age of twelve.
- Add a bit of moisture to the air. Lastly, a cool-mist vaporiser or humidifier can add moisture to your home, which should help to provide relief by loosening up congestion.
As you’ve probably gauged by now, treatment for cold and flu symptoms is all about minimising discomfort so you can ride out the worst of it and get back to normality as quickly as possible. Good hygiene will go a long way to helping you avoid the dreaded lurgy but if it does strike, there are plenty of options to quell the suffering.
Floyd - Senior Pharmacist