Coughs, Colds and Sore Throats – what you need to know…

Coughs, Colds and Sore Throats are very common particularly at this time of year.

There is no magic cure for the common cold! There is no treatment that will shorten the length of the infection. Treatment aims to ease symptoms whilst your immune system clears the virus. Note: antibiotics do not kill viruses, so are of no use for colds.

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Most coughs are caused by viral infections, and usually soon go. There is no ‘quick fix’ for a cough due to a viral infection. You need to be patient until the cough goes, which can be up to 4 weeks.

Most viral coughs clear without complications.

See a doctor if any of the following occur.

  • If symptoms such as fever, chest pains, or headaches become worse or severe.
  • If you develop breathing difficulties such as wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • If you cough up blood. Blood may be bright red but dark or rusty coloured sputum may indicate blood.
  • If you become drowsy or confused.
  • If you develop any symptoms which you are unhappy about, or do not understand.
  • If you have a cough that persists for longer than 3-4 weeks.

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A sore throat usually goes after a few days. Simple treatments that you can buy from a pharmacist can ease symptoms until the sore throat goes. Usually, you would only need to see a doctor if symptoms are severe or if they do not ease within 3-4 days. Have plenty to drink, but avoid alcohol as this can make you more dehydrated, take regular paracetamol or ibuprofen to ease pain, headache and fever and consider lozenges and gargles to soothe a sore throat.

For more information and advice about sore throats please visit