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Prevent the spread of winter bugs

Bugs such as cold and flu viruses are easily spread to others. You can take three simple steps to help prevent these from spreading:

  1. Catch it - germs spread easily, always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze
  2. Bin it - germs can live for several hours on tissues, dispose of your tissue as soon as possible
  3. Kill it - hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch, wash your hands with soap and water regularly.  

Keep the germs away

Wash your hands before eating, or touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Wash your hands after touching anyone who is sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose. Don't share things like towels, lipstick, toys, or anything else that might be contaminated with respiratory germs.

Cold or flu?

If you are not sure whether you have a cold or flu the Lloyds Pharmacy flu vs cold symptom checker could help.


Flu is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. Symptoms can be mild to severe. The most common symptoms include high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, coughing, and feeling tired.

It will often get better on its own, but it can make some people seriously ill. It is important to get your flu vaccine if you are eligible, to protect yourself from the flu. For more information visit the flu page on the NHS website.


A cold has similar symptoms to flu and you can often treat a cold without seeing a GP. You should begin to feel better in a week or two.

For more information on how to treat a cold, visit the common cold page on the NHS website. 

Cold Flu
Appears gradually Appears quickly (within a few hours)
Affects mainly your nose and throat Affects more than your nose and throat
Makes you feel unwell, but ok to carry on as normal (for example, go to work) Makes you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal

Could it be COVID-19?

If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it could be COVID-19. Consult NHS 111 to check your symptoms.

To avoid the spread you should wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering/mask and maintain your distance from others.

For current governmental guidance related to COVID-19, please visit GOV.UK


Also called the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is a stomach bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. It can be very unpleasant, but usually goes away in about two days. Washing your hands frequently with soap and water is the best way to stop it spreading. Alcohol hand gels do not kill norovirus. Further information on symptoms and treatment is available on the norovirus page on the NHS website.


GPs do not recommend antibiotics for viruses such as colds and flu. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections. They will not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery If you have flu or cold.

Both the NHS and health organisations across the world are trying to reduce the use of antibiotics, especially for health problems that are not serious. 

Updated: 10 March 2021

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