Christmas is, of course, a time for giving and receiving. However, one unwanted ‘gift’ many people find themselves picking up is a virus such as the common cold.
You can catch a cold by touching an infected surface or a contagious person’s skin, then touching your face, mouth or eyes, or by inhaling infected water droplets.
There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting this most unwanted gift, including washing your hands with either soap and water or a hand gel, particularly before touching your face or eating food.
Keeping surfaces clean can help, as virus is spread by contact and can live on door handles and keyboards for a long time. Also make sure you don’t share towels, cups, plates or cutlery with anyone who has a cold, while catching sneezes and coughs in tissues is important.
Maintaining your immune system by drinking a good quantity of water, getting a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet, along with regular exercise, can do as much as anything to help.
While there is no cure for a cold, it can be managed at home with rest, plenty of fluids and healthy eating. Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can reduce fever, aches and pains, while decongestant sprays or tablets help relieve a blocked nose.
Colds usually take a week or two to clear up, however if your illness lasts more than three weeks or you have pains in the chest or cough up blood-stained mucus, it may suggest a complication.