Professional Health Advice for Cough, Cold & 'Flu

Colds and ‘flu are both respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different viruses. The cold virus affects the upper respiratory tract including the nose and throat, and the influenza virus can infect the upper respiratory tract as well as the lungs.‘Flu symptoms are generally worse than cold symptoms and can include rapid onset of a high fever.

STAY HYDRATED: Drinking fluids helps dilute the nasal secretions and lessen the irritation causing post-nasal drip and coughing.

SOOTHE WITH STEAM: By taking hot steamy baths, showers or using a nebulizer or humidifier, the phlegm can be loosened and coughed up. Steam also helps keep mucous membranes moist.


  • Cough Mixtures:Is it a dry cough where a suppressant is advised? Wet or phlegmy cough where an expectorant or bronchodilator would be preferred? Is it a child’s cough where different medication may be required? Is the patient on any other medication where there may be dangerous side effects?
  • Decongestants or Antihistamines:Can dry up mucus and reduce nasal stuffiness, but need to be used with caution as some can cause drowsiness, while others may keep you awake. 
  • Throat Lozenges:Often contain ingredients that numb a painful throat.
  • Pain Killers:Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s) like ibuprofen can reduce body aches and fever very quickly, but also can have side effects in creating too much stomach acid. Drugs like paracetamol are effective and safe pain killers, but may not reduce fever. In young children, special care is needed in treating temperature and fevers. Many pain killers contain Codeine which may cause drowsiness and need to be used with caution.