A Few Words of Wisdom

Respiratory Problems

Colds and Flu

Colds and flu (influenza) are often confused. Their symptoms are similar but colds are more common and usually less serious. Flu also tends to last longer, and can leave you feeling under the weather for two or more weeks. Antibiotics have no effect on uncomplicated colds or flu, but simple home treatments can help you feel better.

Signs and Symptoms

  • •  Colds: Mild fever, runny nose and sneezing, watery eyes, cough and sore throat.
  • •  Flu: Fever, chills and high temperature, headache, muscle and bone aches, and dry cough. Runny nose and sneezing may also occur.
  • •  Chesty cough and earache can occur, if there is a chest or ear infection.


It's difficult to prevent yourself catching colds and flu, but you can cut down your chances by keeping away from infected people. If you fall into the list of those who are in danger of getting seriously ill from flu, ask your doctor about a flu vaccination. A balanced diet and regular activity will help boost your immune system and your resistance to colds and flu.


Coughing is the body's way of getting mucus and dust out of the lungs, so it is an important process. Coughing occurs when the windpipe is irritated by something, but if there is nothing to clear from the lungs, it is a nuisance.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms can also include an itchy or sore throat, or painful chest muscles. You may cough up some mucus and phlegm (a 'chesty' cough), although this does not always happen ('dry' cough).


If you have a cough, don't smoke. You can also try to keep out of smoky or dusty areas, and make sure the air is humid enough (e.g. place a damp towel over the back of a chair).

Children should have their first dental check up as soon as possible. Parents should begin brushing their children's teeth as they appear and should keep doing this until the child is at least 7 years old and can brush alone. For more information, contact the British Dental Health Foundation's Word of Mouth helpline on 0645 551188.