‘I’m a doctor – if you feel a cold coming on take these two pills together’

Colds and flu: Symptoms and treatment

Dr Unnati Desai, the national lead for GP services at Nuffield Health, spoke to Express.co.uk about the two pills you should take the moment you feel ill.

Cold symptoms can include a sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and a raised temperature.

All symptoms of a cold, as listed by the NHS:

  • A blocked or runny nose
  • A sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Coughs
  • Sneezing
  • A raised temperature
  • Pressure in your ears and face
  • Loss of taste and smell.

As symptoms develop gradually, you are likely to register when a cold is about to come on.

Two painkillers are recommended by Dr Desai, who said they “should be taken together” the instant you feel like a cold is developing.

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Dr Desai said: “If you feel a cold coming on, [paracetamol and ibuprofen] should be taken together, in their generic forms (at adult doses) rather than as a combination tablet, if no allergies.”

She elaborated: “This allows you to ensure you take the correct adult dose at the right time and allows you to decide when to take them.”

Dr Desai explained: “The majority of cold and flu tablets on the market have less paracetamol and ibuprofen in them, which is what helps to bring the temperatures down.”

Additional tips to treat a cold, as shared by the NHS, include:

  • Rest and sleep
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Gargle salt water for a sore throat.

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People who have a high temperature and do not feel well enough to do their normal activities should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

This is to curb the transmission of the virus that could easily infect others.

People are infectious with a cold until all the symptoms clear up, which can take up to two weeks.

To help minimise the spread of a cold, you should:

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap
  • Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
  • Bin used tissues as quickly as possible.

When suffering from a cold, medicinal treatment can help to alleviate discomfort.

If you decide to take Dr Desai’s advice to take ibuprofen and paracetamol, you should not take cough and cold medicines too.

“Cough and cold medicines often also contain paracetamol and ibuprofen so it can be easy to take more than the recommended dose,” the NHS says.

Do note that the flu vaccine can not prevent a person from catching a cold.

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