Cold & Flu

About the common cold and flu

COLDS AND FLU 421

Learn the symptoms of a common cold and flu, how they differ and how good hygiene can help protect you and your family from the germs that cause them

Causes

The common cold and flu are caused by viruses that spread from person to person. Ways you can contract cold and flu include:

  • Breathing in tiny droplets containing the viruses that are launched into the air every time someone who has a cold or flu sneezes, coughs or speaks.
  • By touching a contaminated surface, like a tissue used by an infected person, door handles, hand rails and telephones, and then touching your nose or eyes
  • Avoid contact with an infected person

Symptoms

What’s the difference between a common cold and flu?

It’s sometimes hard to tell. Many of the symptoms are the same and both are caused by viruses, not bacteria, which means you can’t treat colds and flu with antibiotics. Cold symptoms are generally milder than those of flu, and they do not tend to lead to any serious health complications, which flu can.

The common cold at a glance

The common cold is a viral infection affecting the upper respiratory system. Causes include rhinoviruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza virus, adenovirus and coronavirus. Symptoms can appear within 10-12 hours of exposure and can include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore or irritated throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever (mostly in young children)

Flu at a glance

There are three types of flu virus. Type A viruses cause most cases of human flu and some disease in animals. Type B are less common and cause less severe illness. Type C viruses usually only cause mild flu and are rare. Symptoms of flu tend to be more serious than those of the common cold and can include:

  • Sudden fever (usually 39°C or above)
  • Dry cough
  • Achy muscles
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in children)

How Long is Flu Contagious?

The incubation period for flu is usually 1-3 days after exposure. If you have picked up a flu infection, you can infect someone the day before your symptoms develop, and sometimes up to five days after your symptoms appear. That means you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you have it.

Most people make a full recovery from flu, but it can lead to complications

including bronchitis, pneumonia and in rare cases meningitis.

Prevention Tips

How good hygiene can protect against cold and flu?

Good hygiene can help cold prevention and stop cold and flu viruses spreading around the home.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing
  • Put used tissues in a bin and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards
  • If you don’t have access to soapnd water, use a hand sanitiser
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially door handles, handrails and taps,
  • Avoid close contact with people who have a cold or flu

When someone has a cold or flu

Stay home and keep away from others. Drink plenty of fluids such as water. If necessary, take ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve the symptoms. Ensure high levels of hygiene.

How to Prevent Cold & Catarrh (Flu)

A huge number of people are affected by  cold and catarrh, Flu and   Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI) caused by bacteria and  viruses every year but what is the difference between the two, what are the causes cold and catarrh (Flu) and what can we do to protect our families from this illness in the Harmattan season ?

Symptoms

The common cold and catarrh is caused by a mild viral infection of the nose and throat. It's very common and usually clears up on its own within a week or two. The main symptoms of the common cold include[i]:

The  flu as well as other URTI are respiratory infections caused by the bacteria and viruses, particularly influenza virus These symptoms appear suddenly and although similar to common cold are usually more severe. Flu and these infections can  also result in more serious health problems such as pneumonia so it is important to rest well if you become ill.  The symptoms  may include any of the following[vi]

Causes

It is a common misconception that cold,  catarrh, and URTI (Flu) are caused by the cold temperature. While the number of people struck down by these viruses does appear to increase during the cooler months, the only thing that causes a cold, catarrh, and URTI, is if you contract a virus which causes them.[xiv] There are many different strains to these viruses all of which are highly contagious so it’s important we understand how to protect our families from illness.

Some of the most common ways we contract cold and flu include:

  • Touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes[xv]
  • Inhaling the virus when an infected person sneezes or coughs[xvi]

Tips for cold and flu prevention

Plenty of rest and staying hydrated[xvii] is the only way to beat a cold or the flu but there are steps we can take to protect our families from becoming ill. Below are some tips to help prevent the spread of the influenza virus:

  • Keep your house clean. We can catch viruses by touching objects infected with bad germs and then touching our mouth, nose or eyes. Stop these germs spreading in your home by ensuring surfaces and door handles are cleaned and disinfected regularly using Dettol Multi Surface Cleaner.

 

  • Be careful when you cough and sneeze. Preferably carry a tissue with you to cover your mouth if you need to sneeze or cough. This will prevent the cold and flu viruses entering the air and infecting others. Any used tissues should go in the bin as soon as possible, then wash your hands using soap such as Dettol Original Bar Soap.[xviii]

 

  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. cold, catarrh, flu and URTI  viruses can enter your body through the mouth, nose and eyes, so if you can avoid touching these areas the chance of passing on the virus to your system will be reduced.

 

  • Use your own cup, plates, cutlery, toothbrush and towel. By doing so you will limit the spread of germs between individuals. It can take few days for flu symptoms to develop so it’s always best to be cautious about sharing personal items, even if the other person appears to be well. [xix]

 

  • Keep your clothes clean. Your clothes can harbour illness causing germs too, so if you or a family member has been unwell with cold or flu, try adding Dettol Antiseptic Liquid to your laundry to make sure any germs are killed.[xx]

 

  • Look after yourself. Keep your immune system happy and healthy by eating a balanced diet and making sure you and your family are getting enough sleep. Also try to avoid close contact with those suffering with cold,  catarrh, or URTI.[xxi]

 

  • Good hand hygiene. One of the most common ways we become ill is by passing germs around on our hands, so practicing good hygiene can really help cold and flu prevention. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with warm water and soap such as Dettol Original Bar Soap is one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of cold and flu viruses. If you are out and don’t have access to a tap try using DettolInstant Hand Sanitiser to stay protected from bad germs.[xxii]

 

  • Teach your children the benefits of good hygiene. Influenza  viruses are highly contagious, particularly amongst children when they are in close contact at school. It is important to remind your children of the importance of good hand washing practice and encourage them to wash their hands regularly with soap and water. Follow our step-by-step handwashing guide here.

 

Cold and flu viruses are very contagious so being aware of cold and flu symptoms, and taking a few extra precautions, could help to protect you and your family. Make sure you rest well and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water to prevent the spread of illness causing germs. This guideline is for information only and should not be taken as medical advice. Anybody experiencing symptoms of illness should consult a healthcare practitioner.

 



[i] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[ii] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[iii] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[iv] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[v] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[vi] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[vii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[viii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[ix] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[x] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xi] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xiii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xiv] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/coldsandflu/Pages/Preventionandcure.aspx

[xv] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[xvi] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[xvii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xviii] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[xix] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/spreading-flu-do-you-know-the-rules?page=2

[xx] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/can-clothes-and-towels-spread-germs.aspx

[xxi] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/spreading-flu-do-you-know-the-rules?page=2

[xxii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/flu-cold-symptoms?page=3

How to Prevent Cold and Flu

A huge number of people are affected by  cold and catarrh, Flu and   Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI) caused by bacteria and  viruses every year but what is the difference between the two, what are the causes cold and catarrh (Flu) and what can we do to protect our families from this illness in the Harmattan season ?

Symptoms

The common cold and catarrh is caused by a mild viral infection of the nose and throat. It's very common and usually clears up on its own within a week or two. The main symptoms of the common cold include[i]:

The  flu as well as other URTI are respiratory infections caused by the bacteria and viruses, particularly influenza virus These symptoms appear suddenly and although similar to common cold are usually more severe. Flu and these infections can  also result in more serious health problems such as pneumonia so it is important to rest well if you become ill.  The symptoms  may include any of the following[vi]

Causes

It is a common misconception that cold,  catarrh, and URTI (Flu) are caused by the cold temperature. While the number of people struck down by these viruses does appear to increase during the cooler months, the only thing that causes a cold, catarrh, and URTI, is if you contract a virus which causes them.[xiv] There are many different strains to these viruses all of which are highly contagious so it’s important we understand how to protect our families from illness.

Some of the most common ways we contract cold and flu include:

  • Touching a surface contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes[xv]
  • Inhaling the virus when an infected person sneezes or coughs[xvi]

Tips for cold and flu prevention

Plenty of rest and staying hydrated[xvii] is the only way to beat a cold or the flu but there are steps we can take to protect our families from becoming ill. Below are some tips to help prevent the spread of the influenza virus:

  • Keep your house clean. We can catch viruses by touching objects infected with bad germs and then touching our mouth, nose or eyes. Stop these germs spreading in your home by ensuring surfaces and door handles are cleaned and disinfected regularly using Dettol Multi Surface Cleaner.

 

  • Be careful when you cough and sneeze. Preferably carry a tissue with you to cover your mouth if you need to sneeze or cough. This will prevent the cold and flu viruses entering the air and infecting others. Any used tissues should go in the bin as soon as possible, then wash your hands using soap such as Dettol Original Bar Soap.[xviii]

 

  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes. cold, catarrh, flu and URTI  viruses can enter your body through the mouth, nose and eyes, so if you can avoid touching these areas the chance of passing on the virus to your system will be reduced.

 

  • Use your own cup, plates, cutlery, toothbrush and towel. By doing so you will limit the spread of germs between individuals. It can take few days for flu symptoms to develop so it’s always best to be cautious about sharing personal items, even if the other person appears to be well. [xix]

 

  • Keep your clothes clean. Your clothes can harbour illness causing germs too, so if you or a family member has been unwell with cold or flu, try adding Dettol Antiseptic Liquid to your laundry to make sure any germs are killed.[xx]

 

  • Look after yourself. Keep your immune system happy and healthy by eating a balanced diet and making sure you and your family are getting enough sleep. Also try to avoid close contact with those suffering with cold,  catarrh, or URTI.[xxi]

 

  • Good hand hygiene. One of the most common ways we become ill is by passing germs around on our hands, so practicing good hygiene can really help cold and flu prevention. Washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with warm water and soap such as Dettol Original Bar Soap is one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of cold and flu viruses. If you are out and don’t have access to a tap try using DettolInstant Hand Sanitiser to stay protected from bad germs.[xxii]

 

  • Teach your children the benefits of good hygiene. Influenza  viruses are highly contagious, particularly amongst children when they are in close contact at school. It is important to remind your children of the importance of good hand washing practice and encourage them to wash their hands regularly with soap and water. Follow our step-by-step handwashing guide here.

 

Cold and flu viruses are very contagious so being aware of cold and flu symptoms, and taking a few extra precautions, could help to protect you and your family. Make sure you rest well and wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water to prevent the spread of illness causing germs. This guideline is for information only and should not be taken as medical advice. Anybody experiencing symptoms of illness should consult a healthcare practitioner.

 



[i] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[ii] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[iii] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[iv] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[v] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[vi] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[vii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[viii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[ix] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[x] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xi] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xiii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xiv] http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/coldsandflu/Pages/Preventionandcure.aspx

[xv] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[xvi] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[xvii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/flu-guide/adult-flu-symptoms

[xviii] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cold-common/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[xix] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/spreading-flu-do-you-know-the-rules?page=2

[xx] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/can-clothes-and-towels-spread-germs.aspx

[xxi] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/spreading-flu-do-you-know-the-rules?page=2

[xxii] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/flu-cold-symptoms?page=3

Myths and Truths

“Will Having the flu jab while I’m pregnant will affect my baby?”

No it won’t. If you get the flu while you’re pregnant you could get very ill which can be bad for your baby. What’s more, having the jab at any time during pregnancy will help protect your baby from flu during the first few months after birth. 

 

“Going out with wet hair or clothes will cause a cold?”

It’s something our grandmothers and mums have always told us, but unless someone you come in contact with who has a common cold or flu, or you come in contact with a contaminated surface or food, you will not catch a cold. You’ll probably just feel cold, but remain perfectly healthy.

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