Cold and flu season has arrived but how long should you wait to go to the GP? When will a bit of flat fizzy drink fail as a cure-all? And at what point should you stop going into work? We got the answers.

Is it true the old saying - Feed a cold, starve a flu/fever?
It is not as black and white as it suggests. When you have a cold and are feeling run down, we would always recommend taking Vitamin C which has antioxidants which helps boost your immunity to help fight off a cold.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits and broccoli so eating your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day will definitely help you during the winter season.

If you have the flu, we would recommend plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated. As another old saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

In the lead up to winter, getting a seasonal flu vaccination reduces your chance of catching the flu, or influenza, virus. Fully trained pharmacists will assess and vaccinate patients in a private consultation room.

Are colds and flu's both contagious? For how long?
In short, yes. Influenza (flu) is a virus which is spread by coughing and sneezing and is contagious from the day the symptoms start until up to a week later.

The common cold is contagious as long as the symptoms persist which is usually a week or two. 

sick boy
"If you have the flu, we would recommend plenty of fluids to keep you hydrated," says Grace

What is the correct way to blow your nose and get rid of tissues without spreading germs?
Use tissues once only and throw them away immediately. Proper hand washing techniques are of the utmost importance when suffering from a cold or flu to prevent it spreading.

Wash with warm, soapy water and dry your hands thoroughly using a disposable cloth.

What is the best medical advice for treating a cold in adults? And in children?
A cold can have many different symptoms so speaking to your local pharmacist about the best treatment plan based on your symptoms is the most important step.

There are decongestants for a blocked nose, cough syrups if you have a cough, paracetamol or ibuprofen if you have a temperature and throat lozenges and sprays if it is a sore throat you present with.

The options are overwhelming so I would always advise someone to talk to the staff in the pharmacy to ensure they do not double up on the same ingredients accidentally.

Cough bottles come in a range of options and there are ones that are suitable for diabetics. Children's cold medication has to be carefully selected as many have specific age limits.

sick couple
More often than not, the flu can be treated at home

What is the best medical advice for treating a flu in adults? And in children?
More often than not, the influenza virus is self-limiting meaning that you can treat it at home. The treatment plan usually consists of paracetamol, bed rest and plenty of fluids.

Seasonal influenza is a virus so antibiotics are of no benefit when treating a virus.

Your local pharmacist would be able to advise you on which products would be the best option.

When is it time to go to the pharmacy and when is it time for the doctor?
Your local pharmacy should always be your first port of call as the pharmacist can assess your individual situation and refer you if necessary.

A rule of thumb is if the symptoms of flu get worse or last longer than a week with proper bed rest and fluids, then a visit to the GP would be advised.

 Also, certain 'at risk' groups might want to consider seeing the GP as the illness could progress quite significantly. This group would include pregnant women, over 65s, diabetics, people with heart or lung disease and immunocompromised patients.

When suffering from a cold, the time to see the GP is if there is no improvement after 3 weeks, if your temperature spikes, if you have any chest pain or discomfort, if you have difficulty breathing and again if you are in one of the 'at risk’ groups.