Women pharmacists

Many customers can have misconceptions about the duration of a cold.1

Many customers underestimate the duration of a cold. The worst cold symptoms should be over in 4-5 days but complete recovery can take up to 10 days, and sometimes longer.1

Woman with tissue

Adults experience an average of 2-4 colds a year2

  • The common cold is the conventional term used to describe a mild, self-limited, viral, upper respiratory tract infection.
  • It is characterized by nasal stuffiness and discharge, sneezing, sore throat and cough.
  • The worst cold symptoms should be over in 4-5 days but complete recovery from a cold can take up to 10 days, and sometimes longer.1
  • The relief of the common cold is a self-treatable condition and advice can be sought from pharmacists to help reduce pressure on local GP services.
  • Symptoms

    Person showing cold symptoms

    Nasal symptoms of the common cold

    • Congestion caused by an immune response to the cold virus leading to swelling of nasal blood vessels3.
    • Rhinorrhoea (runny nose) due to parasympathetic activity stimulating submucosal glands of the nasal mucosa to produce excessive nasal secretions4.
    • Sneezing, which often accompanies rhinorrhoea
      • and is thought to occur due to the stimulation of sensory nerve endings in the mucous membrane
    • Sinus pressure, caused by a swelling of the sinuses which may lead to a blocked nose, pain and tenderness5.
  • When to refer

    When to refer customers with a cold or flu symptoms to the GP

    The vast majority of people with a cold do not need to seek care because the symptoms usually go away on their own.

    Refer customers to a healthcare provider if any of the following apply:

    • Fever that lasts for more than three days.9
    • The fever comes back after being fever-free for a few days.
    • More or increasing symptoms from the ears, throat, trachea or sinuses. 7
  • Treatment


    Treating common cold symptoms

    Treatment for the common cold is aimed at symptomatic relief, and includes7:

    • Painkillers
    • Decongestants
    • Expectorants
    • Sore throat lozenges
    • Sufferers may also employ comfort measurers and herbal remedies

Help your customers find effective relief for their cold

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