That old, cold wind is blowing again. There’s always something you can do to help yourself get through the winter storms. What should you stock up on from your local pharmacy to ward off those winter colds, flus, and other chilly issues?
Make sure this winter, you know how to fend off those winter ailments and look after yourself if you do come down with something. Face the weather with a smile on your dial.
General good hygiene
Let’s face it – in winter, pretty much everyone around you is going to get a bit sickly at some point. And everything they touch, from chairs and tables to shopping trolleys, are germ playgrounds. Wash your hands as much as you can in winter, but especially before eating, before touching your face, after using someone else’s keyboard at work, after handling money, and after shaking someone’s hand.
Cold and flu
To boost your immune system and ward off a cold and flu, get yourself some echinacea, Vitamin C and zinc. You can also take these to make a cold or flu shorter.
If you’ve already caught it, you can take paracetamol for the aches and pains of fever from a cold or flu, and phenylephrine for a blocked nose. Many “cold and flu” specific medicines will contain both of these, so don’t take paracetamol on top of these medicines.
Decongestant nasal sprays might come in handy, but you shouldn’t use ones containing active ingredients like Otrivin or Drixine for more than 5 days in a row. Instead, opt for saline sprays that help flush out nasal mucus, since you can use these ones as often as you need.
70 – 90% of sore throats are caused by viruses, unfortunately, which means antibiotics won’t help unless you have a bacterial infection as well. Instead, you can try using lozenges, gargles and sprays to dull the painful symptoms. Anti-inflammatory painkillers are a great help, but just check whether your lozenges already contain an anti-inflammatory first. If your sore throat lasts a longer time than usual or you have a bad fever, get yourself straight to the doctor.
Dry, itchy skin and sore, cracking lips
Winter in New Zealand is generally cold, dry and sunny – the ultimate combination to dry out your skin and cause itching and cracking. We know it’s hard to remember to drink when you’re not hot and sweaty, but drink as much water as you can, because your skin is about 60% water.
Take care of your skin from your toes to your forehead by rubbing on a good moisturiser after your bath or shower. Use moisturiser on your hands again after every time you wash them to prevent cracking skin that’s worse than a paper-cut.
To keep your lips moist and protected, put on a lip balm with pawpaw cream or bees’ wax, and don’t lick your lips if you can help it. Reapply the lip balm after every snack or meal.
A cold sore is a virus that flares up when your immune system is down or your lips are getting dry and chapped – hello, winter. It starts with that familiar tingle, then the burning itch, the blister and the crusting. You can nip that all in the bud by applying a cream early on, preferably one containing the antiviral agent acyclovir, like Zovirax. If it’s already begun, Zovirax will still wipe it away, but it might need something extra from an iodine cream like Betadine Cold Sore to prevent bacterial infection and ease the pain.
Getting the flu vaccination every year is the most effective way to protect yourself against catching each year’s different strains of flu. According to Fight Flu, many people are eligible for a free flu shot:
- Pregnant women
- People who regularly use an asthma preventer
- People with diabetes
- People with heart disease
- People with kidney problems
- People with cancer
- People with another serious medical condition
- People aged 65 years or over
- Children aged 4 years and under who have a history of significant respiratory illness
Stay safe this winter, folks. Be prepared!