Winter is a busy time for the NHS, mainly due to the additional burden of viral illnesses causing sore throats, coughs and colds. These symptoms are almost always due to the same groups of viruses, which change over time to get past your immune system.
Alton Street Surgery in Ross-on-Wye recognises that people get worried about these symptoms and are trialling a new Minor Illness clinic each afternoon, run by a GP and a nurse, so they can see patients quickly if they are concerned.
Patients can still ring to speak with a GP for advice as before, but they will also be offering extra appointments for winter illnesses.?
If you have a sore throat or runny nose, then a cough is likely to be part of the same viral illness. Luckily, complications are rare, though symptoms can go on for an annoyingly long time – a cough can last for up to three weeks.
Children are more susceptible, and can catch up to 12 colds a year, getting less frequent with age, as the immune system builds up resistance to the viruses.
The best advice for coughs and colds is to treat the symptoms. Paracetamol and/or ibuprofen help to reduce pain and fever, but there is little evidence to support the use of decongestants, cough medicines, vitamin C or herbal products such as Echinacea.
Unfortunately modern medicine still does not have a cure for coughs and colds, as antibiotics do not work, and are more likely to cause side effects than help. A pharmacist will be able to provide advice about treating symptoms.
The excellent website; whenshouldiworry.com explains which symptoms in children may need medical attention. You should seek advice if you become more short of breath, or a cough persists more than three weeks or so.