Coughs and Colds

Many people will catch a cold at some stage during the year and rather than try to treat it yourself, you are advised to seek the advice of your community pharmacist who can recommend the best treatment to help relieve your symptoms. 

Each case may be different so the professional expertise of your pharmacist can be very important in getting the best results for you.

There are, however, some things you can do to minimise those annoying and often discomforting symptoms of a cold.

Health professionals recommend drinking plenty of fluid, as well as resting and eating a well-balanced diet with contains a variety of fruit and vegetables. These help to supply natural anti-oxidants which strengthen the immune system.

Knowing your cough is also helpful. If there is a lot of mucus or phlegm irritating the airways and waiting to be coughed up, the cough is known as a ‘productive’ one. A ‘dry’ cough on the other hand is characterised by a lack of mucus and phlegm and is just nagging and annoying.

In addition, coughs can be ‘acute’ or ‘chronic’. What we know as acute coughs are usually those which are caused by a viral or bacterial infection such as a cold, the flu or even pneumonia. However, they may also be caused by external factors such as allergies, smoke or fumes.

Chronic coughs are those which last a number of weeks, and perhaps even months, and are can be caused by cigarette smoking – both the active and the passive forms of smoking.

If you are a non-smoker and suffer a chronic cough, the most likely causes could be post-nasal drip, asthma or gastro-oesophageal reflux disease which is a persistent and severe form of heartburn. Anyone with a chronic cough should talk to their pharmacist about treatment.

It is also important to talk to your community pharmacist about any other medicines you may be taking.

Many medicines designed to relieve the symptoms of coughs and colds are now available as what are known as “Pharmacist Only Medicines”. What this means is that the pharmacists themselves must personally provide you with the medicines and they can only do that if they are satisfied it’s the most appropriate product to treat your symptoms. The pharmacist will also help you choose the best possible product for your particular need.

Sometimes, depending on the ingredients in the medicine, the provision of these products must be recorded and this helps support the health of you and the wider community.


The content displayed on this webpage is intended for informational purposes and is a guide only. It does not replace or substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information contained on this webpage must be discussed with an appropriate healthcare professional before making any decisions or taking any action based on the content of this webpage.