Colds: What helps with a flu-like infection

Cough, runny nose, sore throat: the cold season has begun. Experts explain what sick people can do about their symptoms. (Image: Pixel-Shot /

Cold season: what helps with a flu-like infection

A cold, sore throat, cough: In the autumn and winter months, many people catch a cold. Some people then quickly resort to medication to combat the symptoms. But almost all drugs also have undesirable side effects. Simple home remedies are often more recommended.


When it gets colder again, the cold season starts. Viruses cause colds, sore throats and sometimes coughs and fever. And then many still have the worry: Isn't it Corona?

A special cold season

The nose runs, the throat scratches, the cough plagues - colds (flu-like infections) are mostly harmless, but annoying: You are not really sick, but also not really fit. And most of the time the whole thing takes longer than you'd like.

But what helps against a cold? And when should you go to the doctor? Experts explain how you can get through this special cold season due to the coronavirus.

A cold - what is it actually?

The term common cold is actually misleading because it is not caused by low temperatures, but by viruses. There are around 200 different cold viruses that can only spread more easily when it's cold.

These viruses ensure that the mucous membranes in the nose swell and more secretions “accumulate”, as Prof. Thomas Deitmer, Secretary General of the German Society for Ear, Nose and Throat Medicine, Head and Neck Surgery (DGHNO-KHC) explains .

The throat is inflamed with a cold and it is difficult to swallow. The larynx and bronchi are also affected: You are hoarse, have a cough and there is more secretion here too.

What drugs help against colds?

The answer is sobering: none at all. “There is no causal therapy, you can only do something about the symptoms,” says Deitmer.

Decongestant nasal drops for colds, mucus-thickening agents for coughs and drugs with the active ingredients paracetamol, ibuprofen or acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) for fever and pain.

Combination preparations are often taken, especially with a cold - i.e. drugs that are supposed to help against several symptoms. There are also a number of herbal medicines available.

However, many medicinal products have side effects, which is why professionals often recommend home remedies.

What else can help?

Drink, drink, drink. It should be at least 1.5 liters a day, more if you have a fever. Otherwise, Thomas Deitmer advises gargling, for example with sage tea, and nasal rinsing. Ginger tea is also considered a natural home remedy for a cold.

A visit to the sauna can help - however, there should be a slightly higher level of humidity, for example in a bio or steam sauna. A warm bath can also alleviate the symptoms of a cold. But if you have a fever, saunas and warm baths are taboo.

When should you see a doctor?

During the corona pandemic, one should not go to the doctor with cold or flu symptoms without prior consultation, emphasizes Deitmer. The best thing to do is to call your general practitioner or the emergency medical service on 116 117. In the following cases, as Ursula Sellerberg, pharmacist and deputy spokeswoman for the Federal Chamber of Pharmacists, recommends:

  • If you get a high fever (more than 39 degrees) or medication cannot bring the fever down.
  • When the frontal sinuses or sinuses are involved (pain in the forehead and eye area, especially when bending and lifting).
  • When the mucus is purulent or bloody.
  • When you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you have cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.
  • If you suspect another condition such as otitis media or pneumonia.

How can you prevent it?

Hygiene measures that everyone should observe in the context of the corona pandemic protect against colds: keep your distance, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid touching your face if possible, and ventilate a lot.

Otherwise - as is so often the case - a healthy lifestyle helps: a varied diet, plenty of exercise in the fresh air and no smoking. Even toughening up doesn't do any harm: regularly going to the sauna, alternating showers or Kneipp treatments.

In addition, Thomas Deitmer advises the flu vaccination and, to avoid complications, the pneumococcal vaccination.

Symptoms of colds, flu, and COVID-19

Cough and fever are both very common symptoms for the coronavirus-induced disease COVID-19. In the case of colds, according to an overview on the information platform, which is published by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, fever is rarely a symptom and coughing is "little".

Sneezing, on the other hand, is not a symptom of COVID-19, but is common with colds. Cold, flu and COVID-19 cannot be clearly distinguished on the basis of symptoms.

Nevertheless, the following always applies: keep calm, don't panic, if in doubt, limit your contact with others as a precaution and in any case keep your distance and wear a mouth and nose cover - and call them before visiting the doctor's office. (ad; source: dpa / tmn)

Tags:  Holistic-Medicine Naturopathy Subjects