'Tis the tissue season but you can avoid the germ share
EVER been given some motherly wisdom that goes along the lines of "put on a jacket before you catch a cold”?
Although our mums may have got most things right, unfortunately mum - and grandma, and probably great-grandma before her - was way off the mark with that particular piece of advice.
Today is the first day of winter and unofficially the first day of the dreaded cold and flu season.
Hervey Bay GP Shaun Rudd says that although cold and influenza viruses do peak during the colder months, staying warm will not lessen your chances of falling ill.
"Although it does circulate at this time of year, no you can't catch a cold by going out in the cold,” he said.
Colds and flus are viruses, and as such are transferred from person to person, mostly by coughing or sneezing.
The best way to prevent their spread is to practise good hygiene and, if you do get sick, avoid sharing your germs.
"If you're sick you should stay at home,” Dr Rudd said.
"If you've got the flu you shouldn't be going to work.
"The reality is, you shouldn't be going to your doctor either.
"The only place for someone with a cold or a flu is at home, if possible.”
Dr Rudd said visiting a GP for colds and flus was usually unnecessary and simply meant less rest for the sick person and more opportunity to spread illness.
He said rest was by far the best cure, however over-the-counter products often helped to relieve symptoms and make the sick person feel more comfortable in the meantime.
"Rest will give your body a chance to recover, and everything else is about alleviating the symptoms rather than a cure,” he said.
"Some people find that taking things like echinacea, sucking on Butter Menthols, using Vicks, helps with symptoms which is fine.
"It's not going to make your cold get better any quicker but it's about making yourself feel better.”
Dr Rudd said there was no truth to the often-held belief that a person could tell whether their illness was still at the "contagious stage” by the colour of their mucous.
"If you're sick, you're sick, just stay home,” he said.
He said the main difference between colds and flus was that a flu was usually accompanied by body aches and a fever, and had a longer recovery period than a standard cold.