Cold and flu season is nearing, with an onslaught of infections to be likely in December. Having a cold or the flu can feel grotty, but one of the “best” things you can do to help alleviate discomfort is to implement “fan therapy”. Dr Desai explained: “If you’re getting a really high temperature, you need to remove clothing and get a fan on [you].
“It will bring the body temperature down as quickly as possible, and will help you to feel better.
“You may feel cold and want to wrap up, but this is one of the best ways to bring down body temperatures.”
While the thought of cuddling up to a hot water bottle might seem appealing, if you have a high body temperature, this isn’t going to help you to feel better.
“Fan therapy is one of the best things you can do when feeling unwell,” Dr Desai emphasised.
In regards to the saying, “starve a fever, feed a cold”, Dr Desai says “this statement is a myth”.
The differences between a cold or the flu
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says while both are contagious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses.
“In general, flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are typically more intense and begin more abruptly,” the CDC adds.
The symptoms of the flu can include: fever, feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue.
Symptoms of a cold tend to be more mild than that of the flu, and people who have a cold are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.
“If you feel a cold coming on, [paracetamol and ibuprofen] should be taken together”.
Dr Desai specified that “these should be taken together, in their generic forms (at adult doses) rather than as a combination tablet, if [you have] no allergies”.
To address a build-up of mucus in the nasal passage and chest, while decongestant nasal sprays can work, they are not recommended for more than a few days, and steam inhalation is better.
“In terms of fluids, you need salt, sugar and electrolytes so oral rehydration sachets from the pharmacy can improve hydration levels,” Dr Desai clarified.
“Small amounts of drinks like full-fat cola or glucose energy drinks can help settle an upset stomach.”
Dr Unnati Desai is National Lead for GP Services, as well as Safeguarding Lead for GP Services and Dermatology Lead.
De Desai has worked as a corporate GP within Nuffield Health since 2011.