Cold season: what helps with a flu-like infection
Colds, sore throats, coughs: in the fall and winter, many people catch a cold. Some people quickly resort to medication to control symptoms. But almost all drugs have unwanted side effects as well. Simple home remedies are often more recommended.
Cough, runny nose, sore throat: the cold season has begun. Experts explain what sick people can do about their symptoms. (Image: Pixel-Shot / stock.adobe.com)
When it gets cold again, the cold season begins. Viruses cause colds, sore throats, and sometimes coughs and fever. And then many still worry: isn’t it Corona?
A special cold season
Runny nose, itchy throat, cough sores – colds (flu-like infections) are mostly harmless, but annoying: you’re not really sick, but not really in good shape. And most of the time, the whole thing takes longer than you would like.
But what helps against a cold? And when should you go to the doctor? Experts explain how to get through this special cold season caused by the crown.
A cold – what is it really?
The term cold is actually misleading because it is not caused by low temperatures, but by viruses. There are about 200 different cold viruses that cannot be spread more easily than in cold weather.
These viruses ensure that the mucous membranes of the nose swell and that more secretions “accumulate”, as explained by Prof. Thomas Deitmer, secretary general of the German Society of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (DGHNO -KHC).
The throat is inflamed with a cold and it is difficult to swallow. The larynx and bronchi are also affected: you are hoarse, you cough and there are more secretions here too.
What medicines help with colds?
The answer is sobering: not at all. “There is no causal therapy, you can only do something about the symptoms,” Deitmer says.
Decongestant nasal drops for colds, mucus thickening agents for coughs, and medicines with the active ingredients paracetamol, ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) for fever and pain.
Combination preparations are often taken, especially with a cold – that is, medicines that are believed to help with several symptoms. There are also a number of herbal medicines.
However, many medications have side effects, which is why professionals often recommend home remedies.
What can help?
Drink, drink, drink. It should be at least 1.5 liters per day, more if you have a fever. Otherwise, Thomas Deitmer advises gargling, for example with sage tea, and a nasal rinse. Ginger tea is also considered a natural remedy for colds.
A visit to the sauna can help – however, there should be a slightly higher humidity level, such as in a bio or steam sauna. A warm bath can also ease symptoms of a cold. But if you have a fever, saunas and hot tubs are taboo.
When should you see a doctor?
During the corona pandemic, one should not go to the doctor with cold or flu symptoms without prior consultation, underlines Deitmer. The best thing to do is to call your family doctor or emergency medical service on 116117. In the following cases, as recommended by Ursula Sellerberg, pharmacist and deputy press spokesperson at the Federal Chamber of Pharmacists:
If you have a high fever (over 39 degrees) or if medication cannot lower the fever. When the frontal or paranasal sinuses are affected (pain in the forehead and around the eyes, especially when bending and lifting). When the mucus is purulent or bloody. When you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you suffer from cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. If you suspect another condition such as otitis media or pneumonia.
How can you prevent?
Hygiene measures that everyone should observe in the context of the corona pandemic protect against the common cold: keep your distance, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid touching your face if possible, and ventilate plenty.
Otherwise – as is often the case – a healthy lifestyle helps: a varied diet, lots of exercise in the fresh air and no smoking. Even hardening up doesn’t hurt: regularly going to the sauna, alternating showers or Kneipp applications.
Thomas Deitmer also advises vaccination against influenza and, in order to avoid complications, vaccination against pneumococcus.
Symptoms of colds, flu and COVID-19
Cough and fever are two very common symptoms of the disease induced by the coronavirus COVID-19. In the case of the common cold, according to an overview on the information platform 116117.de, which is published by the National Association of Legal Health Insurance Physicians, fever is rarely a symptom and cough is “little” .
Sneezing, on the other hand, is not a symptom of COVID-19, but it is common with the common cold. The common cold, the flu and COVID-19 cannot be clearly distinguished on the basis of symptoms.
However, the following still apply: keep calm, don’t panic, when in doubt, limit your contact with others as a precaution and in any case keep your distance and wear a mouth and nose cover – and call. – them before going to the doctor. (announcement; source: dpa / tmn)
Author and source information
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.