From home remedies to a GP-approved tonic, this is how doctors suggest dealing with colds
Already feel like you've had your fill of sore throats, coughs and stuffy heads this Winter?
Colds may be common and minor - but they can still leave you feeling rotten, not to mention being a major inconvenience.
They aren't really something you want to be traipsing to the GP surgery with however - but wouldn't it be helpful to know what your doctor really thinks about managing winter ailments? We asked Manuka Doctor’s resident expert, Dr Hilary Jones.
Getting ill is not always terrible
Nobody enjoys having a cold, of course. But Dr Hilary says we can't always "prevent exposure to viruses, especially in winter when people flock together for warmth indoors".
And if symptoms are mild, we probably don't need to worry too much.
"Let your own immune system deal with it as it should," says Jones. "That's what your immune system is for - and looking on the positive side, the more you tickle up your immune system, the healthier it is. In a way, you're stimulating your immune system to be healthy."
Antibiotics can be harmful if you don't actually need them.
If symptoms are proving tougher to tolerate, it can be tempting to try antibiotics. But while there are certainly times when antibiotics are vital, they only work for bacterial infections, so taking them when you have a viral infection (like a cold) is not only futile, but could cause harm.
Soothing home remedies are worth it
Hilary points out: "If you do get sick, comforting symptomatic relief is really important, starting with the simple things. I'm an advocate of Manuka Doctor - the Genuine Manuka honey from New Zealand, which carries a number for the antibacterial activity, which is from the amount of MGO, methylglyoxal, it contasins."
As well as its antibacterial properties, Hilary says it's "soothing for throats" and can provide an "energy boost" - plus his 97-year-old mother is a fan!
"Not only does she put it in her porridge, she put it on her skin for a few lesions that she has - perfectly well-endorsed by the district nurse who comes to visit her as well.”
“You can also put honey in a grog, in hot water, with a bit of lemon, a bit of cinnamon - that's something our grandmothers used to use, and to good effect."
Diet and lifestyle do play a part
"Diet is always important," says Jones. "A healthy lifestyle does protect us and helps our immune system. Clearly, there are obvious things not to do - smoking and excess alcohol - as well as poor nutrition.
"We know vitamin D is important for good immune health, and there are many people who are deficient in vitamin D, who should be taking a supplement as recommended by the WHO and NHS, particularly through winter," Hilary adds (when there isn't enough sunlight in this part of the world for our bodies to make sufficient amounts).
"So vitamin D, adequate vitamin C, zinc, and sometimes things like garlic and echinacea can be helpful in making sure your immune system is healthy."