20% off £30

Code:GET20
Buy 1 Get 1 FreeSummer ShopOffersOffers HubBuy one get one 1/2 priceSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 Free25% off Online Only OfferOutletFlash Sale up to 50% offFree gift with purchase1/2 Price2 for £50Better than half priceShort DatedBuy 6 for £15 Mix & MatchVitamins & SupplementsVitamins & Supplements HubJoints, Aches & PainsGut HealthImmunityChildren's HealthEnergyHealthy HeartLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietyWeight ManagementExercise & RecoveryVitamins & Supplements Shop AllCBDShop all CBDCBD OilCBD CapsulesCBD SprayCBD GummiesCollagen & SilicaHair, Skin & NailsShop all Hair, Skin & NailsHair GrowthFunctional MushroomsVitaminsShop all VitaminsMultivitaminsVitamin AVitamin BVitamin CVitamin DVitamin EVitamin KVitamin DrinksMineralsShop all MineralsMagnesiumIronZincCalciumSeleniumChromiumSupplementsShop all SupplementsFibre SupplementsAcidophilus & Friendly BacteriaPeppermint OilGrapeseed ExtractLecithinCollagen & SilicaOmega & Fish OilsPlant Sourced SupplementsSuperfood SupplementsArnicaApple CiderRaspberry KetonesAloe VeraChondroitin & MSMCo Enzyme Q10Evening Primrose OilGarlicGinkgo BilobaGlucosamineGlucomannanSeaweed, Kelps and Aquaceuticals5 HTPDigestive EnzymesSaw palmettoCharcoalWomen's HealthShop all Women's HealthMenopauseMenstrual SupportUrinary Tract HealthPregnancy & ConceptionMen's HealthShop all Men's HealthProstate HealthChildren's HealthConditionShop all ConditionCholesterolAllergy & Hay Fever CareAnxiety SupportBone & Muscle HealthMuscle Support & Joint PainBrain & Memory SupportWomen's HealthMen's HealthChildren's HealthCold & Immune SupportFatigueDigestive HealthHair, Skin & NailsHeart & CirculationLiver CareMood SupportSexual HealthSleep & RelaxationStress ReliefVisionHerbal & Licensed RemediesShop all Herbal & Licensed RemediesSt John's WortRescue RemedyAshwagandhaEchinaceaMilk ThistleGinseng & GuaranaHomeopathic & Flower RemediesShop all Homeopathic & Flower RemediesRescue RemedyTissue SaltsFlower RemediesHomeopathic RemediesAt-Home TestsVegan Vitamins & SupplementsCBD Homeopathic Buy one get one 1/2 priceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeSave up to 1/2 PriceHolland & BarrettVitabioticsSolgarNew NordicBioglanBetterYouNatures AidGrass & Co.Nature's WayH&B ExpertDairy FreeGluten FreeSesame Seed FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeKiwi FreeLupin FreeNew inFood & DrinkFood & Drink HubImmunityExercise & RecoveryGut HealthEnergyJoints, Aches & PainsWeight ManagementDental HealthFood & Drink Shop AllHoney, Jams & SpreadsShop all Honey, Jams & SpreadsManuka HoneyHoneyNut ButtersJams & ChutneysSpreadsPateSuperfoodsShop all SuperfoodsSuperfood PowdersMaca PowderGoji BerriesBaobabMoringa PowderFlaxseedSpirulinaChia SeedsDried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsShop all Dried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsNutsDried FruitSeedsMixesTeas, Coffee & Hot BeveragesShop all Teas, Coffee & Hot BeveragesCoffee & Coffee SubstitutesMushroom DrinksTeasSuperfood TeasMatcha & Green TeaSleep & RelaxationDairy AlternativesShop all Dairy AlternativesOat, Rice & Hemp DrinksSoya DrinksNut DrinksCoconut DrinksFood CupboardShop all Food CupboardHoney, Jams & SpreadsBreakfast CerealsSuperfoodsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesTinned FoodsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsBreakfast CerealsShop all Breakfast CerealsCereals, Bran & FlakesGranolaMuesliOats & PorridgeBreakfast BarsVegan FoodSnacksShop all SnacksProtein BarsLow Calorie SnacksChocolate, Cakes & BiscuitsCrisps & ChipsSavoury SnacksSweet SnacksSnack BarsFlapjacksPopcornDrinks & JuicesShop all Drinks & JuicesNatural Energy DrinksKombuchaJuicesSoft DrinksWaterProtein ShakesAlcohol Free DrinksCookingShop all CookingCooking IngredientsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesSoya & Meat AlternativeSoup & Ready MealsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsHerbs, Spices & SeasoningGravy & StockHome BakingShop all Home BakingBaking MixesBreadFlourSweeteners & Sugar AlternativesEgg SubstitutesNutritionally Complete FoodBuy one get one 1/2 priceSave up to 1/2 Price25% off Online Only OfferHolland & BarrettNaturyaGrenadeHeath & HeatherPukkaMeridianNakdTwiningsBionaHuelGluten FreeDairy FreeWheat FreeEgg FreeMilk FreeSugar FreeSoya FreeMustard FreeCelery FreeFish FreeNew inSports NutritionSports Nutrition HubExercise & RecoveryEnergyWeight ManagementLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietySports Nutrition Shop AllProteinShop all ProteinWhey ProteinClear ProteinMass GainersVegan ProteinDiet ProteinCaseinSports SupplementsShop all Sports SupplementsTestosteroneElectrolytesEnergy GelsSports CollagenPre Workout & EnergyShop all Pre Workout & EnergyPre WorkoutCaffeine-free-pre-workoutAmino Energy PowdersBars, Drinks & SnacksShop all Bars, Drinks & SnacksEnergy BarsProtein BarsProtein ShakesProtein SnacksNutritionally Complete FoodMeal Replacement ShakesIntra WorkoutKetoPost WorkoutAmino AcidsShop all Amino AcidsAmino Energy PowdersBCAAL-LysineGlutamineCarnitineArginineCreatineShop all CreatineCreatine PowderCreatine CapsulesVegan Sports NutritionShop all Vegan Sports NutritionVegan ProteinVegan Protein BarsVegan Pre Workout & EnergyVegan Amino AcidsVegan CreatineSports AccessoriesShop all Sports AccessoriesBottles & ShakersFitness EquipmentFitness GoalShop all Fitness GoalRecoveryMuscle & StrengthLean MuscleEnergy & EnduranceDiet & Weight LossSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy one get one 1/2 price2 for £50Optimum NutritionPE NutritionUSNGrenadeApplied NutritionPhDSiSHuelFoodspringYfoodDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeSoya FreePalm Oil FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeNew inBeautyBeauty HubSkin Health - by skin concernDental HealthWomen's Health - Cycles & MenstruationSexual HealthWomen's Health - PregnancyJoints, Aches & PainsChildren's HealthExercise & RecoveryLow Mood & DepressionStress & AnxietyNatural Beauty Shop AllAromatherapy & HomeShop all Aromatherapy & HomePure Essential OilsBlended Essential OilsBase & Carrier OilsHolisticSkincareShop all SkincarePremium SkincareFace CareBody CareSun CareTanning & BronzingEye CareLip CareFoot CareHand & Nail CareSkin AilmentsSkin OilsCBD BeautySun CareShop all Sun CareMineral Sun CareSun Lotion SPFAfter SunHair Skin & NailsWashing & BathingShop all Washing & BathingShampoo & ConditionerBathing AccessoriesShower Gel & Body WashDeodorantDentalHand WashSoapBath Soak & OilBody ScrubBath Bombs & SaltsFeminine CareIncontinence SupportHair CareShop all Hair CareShampoo & ConditionerHair ColouringHair MasksHair Oil & SerumHair Spray, Gel & MousseHair AccessoriesMother & BabyShop all Mother & BabyBaby Skincare & ToiletriesElectrical WellnessSexual WellnessSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeBuy one get one 1/2 priceDr OrganicFaith in NatureWeledaNaturtintTisserandMiaromaSukinQ+AEthiqueSo EcoAlcohol FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeParfum FreePalm Oil FreeGluten FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeNew inCBDWeight ManagementWeight Management HubExercise & RecoveryWeight ManagementEnergyHealthy HeartWeight Management Shop AllFat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsShop all Fat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsFat BurnersFat BindersAppetite SuppressantsSlimming TabletsShakes & Weight Management ShotsShop all Shakes & Weight Management ShotsMeal Replacement ShakesDiet ProteinDiet Food & DrinkShop all Diet Food & DrinkDiet FoodLow Calorie SnacksSlimming TeaExercise SupportShop all Exercise SupportFitness EquipmentMeal Replacement ShakesDiet ProteinProtein BarsSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy one get one 1/2 price2 for £50GrenadeOptimum NutritionHolland & BarrettUSNPulsinPhDEat WaterNew NordicSlimExpertNatures AidDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeWheat FreeNew inVeganHealth & WellnessShop all Health & WellnessGut HealthSkin Health - by skin concernEnergyWomen's Health - Menopause & PerimenopauseExercise & RecoveryJoints, Aches & PainsWomen's Health - Hormonal HealthImmunitySleep & RelaxationLow Mood & DepressionJoints Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair Skin & NailsStress AnxietySleep & RelaxationBuy one get one 1/2 priceSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy 1 Get 1 FreeHolland & BarrettDr OrganicNaturtintVitabioticsSolgarOptimum NutritionWeledaNew NordicEthiqueWildDairy FreeGluten FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeAlcohol FreeSugar FreeParfum FreeWheat FreeSoya FreeSesame Seed FreeNew inShop for your WellnessWomen's HealthMenstrual HealthMenopauseSkincareJoints, Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair, Skin & NailsImmunitySleep & RelaxationFood & DietChildren's HealthStress ReliefHealthy HeartEnergyLow Mood & DepressionConcentration & AlertnessEye HealthSexual HealthLearn about WellnessWomen's HealthPeriods & Cycle HealthMenopauseJoints, Bones & MusclesImmunityGut HealthFood & DietSports & FitnessSleep & RelaxationHair Skin & NailsArticlesAll articlesHealthFood & nutritionGut healthImmunityJoints, bones & musclesWomen's healthWellnessHair & skinMental wellbeingSeasonalSleep & relaxationSports nutritionRecipesAll recipesGluten freeLow sugarVeganDairy freePodcast

The A-Z guide to cold & flu

oranges, mug and flu medicine on a bedside table
Want to know more about colds and flu? We’ve got advice from aches to zinc in this handy glossary.

Should you stay at home if you have a cold? And when will you feel like yourself again?

There’s more to colds and flu than just a sniffle. In fact, there’s a whole alphabet’s worth...

Aches

Both colds and flu can leave you feeling achy. ¹ ²

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help lower your temperature and ease aches and pains. ¹ ²

Bin it

Bin used tissues as soon as you’ve finished with them to help minimise the spread of germs. Don’t leave them lying around or save them for later!

Cold

It might be a cold if you’ve got: ¹

  • A blocked or runny nose
  • A sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Coughs and sneezing
  • A raised temperature
  • Muscle aches
  • Pressure in your ears or face
  • Loss of taste and smell
 

You’ll usually recover within a week or two without needing to see your GP. Drink plenty of water and get lots of rest. ¹

Dehydration

It’s easier to get dehydrated if you’ve got a cold or flu, since you lose fluids through symptoms like a runny nose and sneezing. Dehydration could make you feel even worse, so drink plenty of water. ¹

Exhaustion

Feeling tired? It’s normal with flu. You might have trouble sleeping or feel exhausted even if you’re resting. Stay home if you’ve got a high temperature or you don’t feel well enough to do your usual activities. ²

Flu

Flu is a respiratory virus, which means it affects your nose, throat, and lungs.

Most people will begin to feel better within about a week, but it can be more dangerous for some people. ³

Flu symptoms can include: ²

  • A sudden high temperature
  • An aching body
  • A dry cough and sore throat
  • A headache
  • Diarrhoea, stomach pain, or feeling/being sick

Good hygiene

It’s important to build good hygiene habits all the time, not just when you’re ill.

Most importantly: ⁴

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Stay home when you’re ill
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth where you can
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Regularly disinfect frequently-touched surfaces (like your kitchen counters, computer keyboards, and door handles)

Happy birthday

To make sure you’re washing your hands properly, wash for as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice (about 40 seconds).

The NHS has a helpful guide and video showing you how to wash your hands.

Ibuprofen

If you’ve got a cold or flu, you can use ibuprofen to help ease aches and lower your temperature. ¹ ²

However, don’t take cold and flu medications on top of this (and vice versa). Cold and flu medicines often contain paracetamol and ibuprofen, so this could mean you take more than the recommended dose. ¹

Joints

Flu can make your joints and muscles feel exhausted and achy.  Get lots of rest and drink lots of water to help you recover. You can also take paracetamol or ibuprofen. ²

Kids’ cold & flu

Children pick up bugs like cold and flu much more easily and more often, because:

  • They’re more likely to touch items, share toys, or put things in their mouth
  • They’re less likely to follow good hygiene practices like proper handwashing

In fact, it’s common for kids to have 8 or more colds per year. ⁵

Kids’ flu symptoms might be slightly different to adults’. They might have pain in their ears or seem less energetic than usual. ²

For both cold and flu, babies might have fewer wet nappies than usual due to dehydration. ⁶

Loss of taste

A cold can leave you with a loss of taste. This is a symptom that can also happen with Covid-19, so it’s a good idea to take a lateral flow test. ⁷

If it’s a cold, your sense of taste should return as you recover without any extra measures.

Manuka honey

Manuka honey

Manuka honey comes from the nectar of flowers on the Manuka bush. This nectar contains a compound called methylglyoxal, which gives it antibacterial properties.

The MGO rating shows how much methylglyoxal is in manuka honey; the higher the number, the more methylglyoxal.

Mix into hot water with a squeeze of lemon juice for a take on the traditional honey and lemon to help soothe a sore throat.

Nausea

Flu can leave you feeling sick or cause you to be sick. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, especially if you’re sick. Take regular sips instead of drinking a lot in one go.

Oranges

Many people think that vitamin C can help prevent a cold or speed up your recovery...but, according to the NHS, there’s not enough evidence to support this. ¹

However, it helps support our normal immune function, which is always important!

It’s best to get your vitamins through food if possible. Oranges are famously high in vitamin C, but a bell pepper has over three times the amount! ⁸ ⁹

So, eat the rainbow and you’ll get the vitamins you need to support you day-to-day.

Paracetamol

You can take paracetamol to help ease symptoms of cold and flu, like aches and a high temperature. ¹ ²

Again, make sure not to take it alongside other cold and flu medications, as you may end up taking more than the recommended amount. ¹

Quantity of fluids

Quantity of fluids

It’s recommended to drink 6-8 cups or glasses of water per day. There's not a suggested amount to drink when you’re ill, but it’s likely you’ll need more than usual to make up for fluids lost through sneezing and runny noses.

Recovery

Most people don’t need to visit their doctor if they have a cold or the flu. You should recover from a cold in about 1-2 weeks, and the flu within about a week. ¹ ¹⁰

Although it usually goes away on its own, it’s important to check on your symptoms and follow advice to help you recover as well as possible.

Sneezing

We all know sneezing’s common with a cold. But why?

You sneeze when something irritates your nose, as your body’s way of expelling it out.

When you have a cold, the body releases inflammatory mediators to help fight the virus. These inflammatory mediators irritate the nose, leaving you reaching for the tissues.

Temperature

If you have a cold or flu and a high temperature, stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better. Paracetamol and ibuprofen may help lower your temperature. ¹ ²

See a GP if: ¹

  • Your temperature suddenly becomes very high, or if you feel hot and shivery

Call 111 or see a GP immediately if: ¹¹

  • Your baby is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 38°C or more
  • Your baby is over 3 months old and has a temperature of 39°C or more

Upset stomach

You won’t usually have stomach problems with a cold. But the flu may make you feel sick, be sick, or have diarrhoea. ²

Vaccine

Vaccine

Many of us will recover safely from flu if we catch it, but others may need extra protection to prevent it from becoming dangerous.

The flu vaccine is available every year to certain people. It’s free, safe, and effective and helps those most at risk from flu stay protected.

If you’re eligible for a flu vaccination, you can book it at your GP or online. Some children may also receive the vaccine at school. ¹² ¹³

Wash your hands

Remember to wash your hands (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water aren’t available): ¹⁴

  • After using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • Before eating or handling food
  • Before and after handling raw foods like meat, fruit, and vegetables
  • After sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose
  • After touching animals (including pets) and their food or cages
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound

eXtra rest

Whether it’s cold or flu, you’ll need to get lots of rest. Sleep is when your body recovers - so don’t power through your usual activities if you’re feeling unwell.

You

You know how you’re feeling better than anyone. So, if something feels wrong or you’re worried about the way your symptoms are progressing, speak to your GP or call 111.

Call 999 or go to A&E if: ²

  • You get sudden chest pain
  • You have trouble breathing
  • You start coughing up a lot of blood

Zinc

Many people reach for zinc when they have a cold – but there’s not enough evidence to say that it can reduce cold symptoms or its duration.

However, it’s still important for helping your immune system function normally.
 

The final say

Still wondering what that sniffle is, or how your immune system protects you? Read more of our immunity guides below...

Disclaimer

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Before taking any supplements or minerals, it’s best to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients through your diet first.

Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

 

Sources

 
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • PayPal
  • AmericanExpress
  • ApplePay
  • ClearPay
  • AliPay
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Copyright © Holland & Barrett Retail Limited, 2024. All rights reserved. hollandandbarrett.com is a trading name of Holland & Barrett Retail Limited,. Registered office: Samuel Ryder House, Barling Way, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV10 7RH. Registered in England: company no. 2758955. Registered VAT no. 211727395.