Preparing For The Winter Bugs

Sore throat, Common Cold, and the Flu

winter bugDuring the cooler months of the year, it is not unusual to experience sore throat, the cold and flu. There are many circulating viruses which cause illnesses at this time of the year. It is at this time (autumn) that we need to scale up the public education and encourage persons to get the flu shot. Hand washing has to be practiced frequently by everyone.

Sore throat (Pharyngitis)

One has a sore throat when there is discomfort or pain on swallowing or speaking. In the case of a really bad sore throat, there is constant pain.

The sore throat can be accompanied with a cough, sneezing, runny nose, or earache. Fever and vomiting are worrying symptoms and require a doctor’s visit especially for children. The flu is a common cause of sore throat.


  1. At the first sign soreness in the throat, gargle with a mild antiseptic mouthwash. For children, dilute the mixture according to the directions. Warm salt water can also be effective.
  2. Check your temperature for fever. Normal is below 99 (F) or 37 (C) and any figure above these signals a fever. Do not ignore a low grade fever. Acetaminophen or Paracetamol can be taken as directed. In the event of fever, tender glands and difficulty swallowing, see a doctor without delay.Eat “comfort” soothing foods such as gelatin, ice cream, custard and meal replacement drinks.

The Common Cold

There are many viruses responsible for the cold and, unfortunately, there is no one vaccine that can protect us from the common cold nor is there a treatment. Mainly the nose and the throat are affected. The good news is that the cold is self-limiting and resolves within a week. The age old advice given by the family doctor still holds true for today, drink lots of fluid, get some rest.


  1. Keep well hydrated drinking water, juices and other fluids
  2. Dispose carefully of used tissue paper used to clear your nostrils
  3. Wash hands frequently especially after touching your nostrils
  4. Take supplements of vitamin C and Zinc which help to shorten the course of the cold
  5. A comfort food is definitely chicken soup.

Influenza (Flu)

The flu is a potentially more serious illness which affects the nostrils, throat, and lungs. It is caused by a highly contagious virus. Each year, there are different strains of flu viruses in circulation. For this reason a flu vaccine has to be different every year.

The flu is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Of note is the way the flu virus can also be spread when the infected person gets the virus on their hands and then contaminates everything he/she touches.

Symptoms of the flu include a high temperature, chills, sore throat, runny nose, cough, joint and muscle pains. Some persons have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.


  • The flu shot is recommended for everyone  and more so for:
    •  children
    • the elderly
    • persons with a chronic disease (heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, and any disease which suppresses the immune system)
  • Stay home from school or work to prevent spreading the flu to others
  • Keep well hydrated
  • Rest
  • Over the counter medication for fever and pain is recommended

Be well this winter by practicing the prevention measures to keep at bay the common winter bugs.

Readers Bureau Contributor

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