Woman dressed in winter clothing blowing her nose
Woman dressed in winter clothing blowing her nose


A cold is a viral infection that can be caused by more than 200 different viruses. Although a nuisance, the symptoms should fade after a few days and clear up within a week.1,2 A cold is caught only if you contract the virus which spreads easily in dry air. This is why in the winter month colds are more common; it isn’t the cold air that allows it to spread, as most people believe, but groups of people being together in heated rooms. Coughs and sneezes travel through the dry air in these contained spaces, spreading the virus.1

You’ll know you’ve caught a cold if you begin to suffer from a sore throat, a cough, fatigue, a sudden fit of sneezes or a blocked nose.2 This is one of the worst symptoms of a cold. It can make the simple act of breathing become difficult, resulting in lack of sleep and disruptive sleep patterns which isn’t good when one of the best treatments for a cold is to rest. Other treatments of nasal congestion include nasal irrigation, steam treatments, air humidifiers3 or nasal sprays like Otrivin if you want instant relief on the go.4

There are a few other ways to get some relief whilst you recover. Drinking plenty of fluids will keep you hydrated.3 If you’re brave, some people swear by eating spicy foods to ease congestion!

Antibiotics won’t help a cold as they’re designed to treat bacteria, not a virus. It’s best to save antibiotics for the times when you need it, to avoid building up a resistance to their powers.3

Grief, N. 2005. Upper Respiratory Infections. Department of Family Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1919 West Taylor Street, Suite 186B, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

Eccles, R. 2009. Mechanisms of symptoms of common cold and flu. Basel, Birkhäuser

COPD - Mayo Clinic. 2015. Diseases and Conditions. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

Eccles, R. 2009. Over the counter medicines for colds. Basel: Birkhäuser