Self Help Information

Cold & Flu

Colds and the Flu are both caused by viruses but the flu is much more serious.

Here are some tips you can do to try and prevent yourself and your family from getting sick.

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap, and dry hands with a paper towel or clean dry towel.
  • Exercise daily for at least thirty minutes to help your body get stronger.
  • Eat healthy foods to build your immune system i.e. fresh vegetables with lean protein and try  to reduce sugar/salt intake. You can take vitamins and herbal supplements that may help boost your immunity e.g. Vitamin C/Echinacea.
  • Keep your home dry by getting fresh air in your home: by opening windows during the day to keep it dry; keep the bathroom door closed when showering/bathing to lessen dampness settling around the house to prevent mould and mildew growing which can lead to respiratory illness; you can also use a dehumidifier.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes (with the inside of your elbow) and dispose of used tissues in a bin. Wash or sanitise your hands with an alcohol gel and keep surfaces and handles at home wiped clean. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Don’t share drinks
  • Avoid crowded places
  • Have the influenza vaccination annually (see your doctor)

Signs and Symptoms of Colds and the Flu:

Both Colds and the flu can cause symptoms such as a headache, feeling tired, sore throat, sneezing, a blocked/stuffy/runny nose, and a cough.

The flu usually comes on strongly and suddenly whereas a cold may develop over a few days. The flu normally causes body/muscle aches, shivers/chills/sweats, fever, exhaustion/weakness, nausea/poor appetite, vomiting/diarrhoea.

Influenza can affect anyone, no matter how fit, active and healthy they may be. Influenza can mostly be prevented by annual vaccination available from your local doctor, but there is no vaccine to prevent a cold.

 

Treatment and Symptom relief:

  • Stay at home and get some rest (to speed up your recovery) until you are well
  • drink plenty of fluids (water, juices) as this loosens up mucus and avoid alcohol/coffee/tea (to avoid dehydration)
  • take a pain relief medicine for pain/fever making sure not to double up on ingredients (do not give aspirin to children aged under 16)
  • To help with sinus blockage or a runny nose, you can either inhale steam or menthol/eucalyptus vapour (put a towel over your head and the bowl of water) or try nasal Sprays/Drops or Rinses. See External Sinus Decongestants. You can also take Oral Decongestants to help.
  • To soothe a sore throat, take fresh lemon juice mixed with honey, hot water and a little olive oil, well shaken then sipped slowly, or take a teaspoon of straight honey. You can also suck on lozenges, or use antiseptic/anti-inflammatory gargles or sprays.
  • For coughs, the treatment depends if it is for a chesty or a dry cough. Cough Medicines normally specify which type of cough they treat. There are also natural cough remedies e.g. Prospan, and the Comvita and Weleda range. Some mixtures can help an “in-between cough” i.e. coughs that are both dry and chesty at times e.g. DuroTuss Expectorant, Robitussin Cough & Chest Congestion.
  • An antiviral drug may shorten the flu but only if taken in the first 48 hours of symptoms – talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • See your Doctor if you do not start to improve in four days or if the person is a baby/ a child/an elderly person, especially if they are dehydrated, obese, have long-term health issues, or pregnant women.
  • You may need an antibiotic from your doctor if you get a secondary bacterial infection following the viral infection. Symptoms include mucus becoming thick and green/brown/bloody in colour and painful lungs, wheezing/short of breath, and/or sore/painful ears, tonsils or sinuses.

 

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a stiff neck, dislike bright lights or have a rash/spots, joint pain/aching muscles in addition to your ‘cold/flu’ symptoms, it may be meningitis - go to the nearest hospital immediately. For meningitis in an infant, also check for cold hands/feet, irritability especially when picked up, high-pitched/moaning crying, refusing drinks/feeds, vomiting, sleepy/floppy/harder to wake, have a bulging fontanelle (top of the head), skin that is pale/blotchy or turning blue.

Quitting Smoking

 

Quitting Smoking will be one of your biggest achievements in life, benefiting both your own health and the health of your family. Quitting smoking is also like giving yourself a pay rise! It is never too late to quit.

 

 

 

Consequences of Smoking:

 

  • If you are a pregnant smoker, your child is likely to have future health problems.
  • If you smoke, you are likely to die early from smoking-related illnesses such as lung cancer, emphysema, stroke or a heart attack.
  • You are also affecting the health of all those around you as second-hand smoke is also deadly.

     

 

You need to understand more about your smoking addiction to increase your chances of quitting. Smoking is not only being addicted to nicotine, but it also has formed part of your daily life where it is associated with many things you do during the day and you also do it in response to certain emotions. Nicotine quickly triggers a group of nerves/brain receptors which many smokers say it gives them emotional and anxiety relief, improving their mood, and the ability to concentrate better.

When you quit, expect some withdrawal effects starting only a few hours after the last cigarette, such as cravings for a cigarette, feeling anxious/depressed, not being able to sleep or concentrate properly during the day and an increase in appetite. Some people cannot stop smoking being of these withdrawal effects, thinking it would not hurt to have “just another one”, having no support from friends, family and those who still smoke, not being able to 'say no' in social environments when drinking & smoking, or always wanting to hold something in his/her hand, not making full use of available treatments for nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

There are nicotine substitutes which you can use (see below) to take away the cravings but you will also need to come up with a plan to help cope with your daily habits and emotions. Here are some tips:

 

 

  • Make the decision that you want to stop smoking and know why
  • Talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist about help with quitting
  • Set a date to quit when there aren’t extra pressures or stresses to deal with
  • Tell people you're quitting, and ask them to be supportive, and not offer you cigarettes
  • Decide now what you will do instead of smoking if you get the urge for a cigarette
  • Make your house, car and work areas totally smoke-free and get rid of ashtrays and ask your family to support you in that
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Wash all your clothes, furnishings and car
  • Alter your routines and avoid situations that make you want to smoke
  • Reduce alcohol intake as it reduces your strength to fight urges.
  • When you do drink, have an escape plan and always keep your hands and mouth busy with a straw, or toothpick.
  • In the mornings, try getting into the shower straight away and stay indoors helping family or getting ready to work
  • Avoid any extra stresses in your life
  • If coffee or tea is associated with smoking, try to change the drink to something else (non-alcoholic) and drink it in a new location to where you used to.
  • After meals, do the washing straight away
  • Brush your teeth regularly especially after meals & have your teeth cleaned professionally
  • Give yourself treats from the money you are savings and do things you enjoy to replace smoking
  • Always carry a water bottle with you
  • Talk to friends for support and take regular time outs
  • List the good things and bad things about smoking and meditate on them
  • Reinforce to yourself "I’m not a smoker anymore" or sayings to that effect, repetitively during the day
  • Avoid meeting smokers and spend time with non-smokers or ex-smokers.
  • If you are stressed or upset, have a walk or a run, or use a stress ball.
  • Distract yourself when you are urged to smoke, drink water, breathe deeply and keep busy e.g. tidy up and clean the house/car/garage etc.
  • To avoid boredom, take a night class or join a gym or pick up a new hobby.
  • If you are meeting smokers, plan how you can avoid smoking e.g. by using a nicotine tongue spray or gum.

 

TREATMENTS AVAILABLE:

 

 

Numerous Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products are available to give you nicotine in a controlled way to replace the nicotine that you get from smoking:
  1. The Patches are designed to give you a background level of nicotine while the gums, lozenges, sprays or inhalers deliver nicotine more quickly and can be used when you get a sudden urge for a cigarette. It is expected that you stop smoking as soon as you start NRT and then reduce the use of NRT over a period of about 10-12 weeks by weaning yourself off your dependence on nicotine. Generally they are safe to use in pregnancy and is recommended/preferred over smoking to prevent harm to the unborn baby from smoking.
  2. There are prescription medications that can be prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor will explain how to use them. These medications reducing the negative sensations of nicotine withdrawal and/or by blocking the pleasant sensations of smoking, so you are less likely to have an urge and when you do have during treatment you will feel a cigarette is less enjoyable.

 

When you do quit, plan for tough times ahead. Always carry water with you and keep phone numbers of supportive friends at hand. Always read the good reasons for quitting smoking and rewards yourself with treats and healthy nibbles.

Having one cigarette while trying to quit does not mean you have relapsed: recognise how it happened, learn how to avoid the situation, and renew your effort. If you do relapse into smoking again, do not lose courage! You will learn more about how to succeed as long as you are concentrating on the health benefits of quitting the terrible habit!

Give it a go! What are you going to lose? We wish you all the best in achieving your goal of a healthier lifestyle.