BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 13 December, 2002, 11:49 GMT
Christmas parties trigger colds
Woman with cold
The cold snap has increased suffering
The start of the Christmas party season could be partially to blame for a sharp rise in the numbers suffering from coughs and colds.

Figures show around six million Britons are currently afflicted.

Doctors believe a common lung virus could be largely to blame.

Many GPs and pharmacists have been inundated over the last week with patients suffering from a dry persistent cough and two-day fever.

You have parties, and people are closer to each other, so you're more likely to catch the virus

Dr Douglas Fleming, RCGP
But there is little doctors can do to help.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, and the best advice is to stay warm and drink plenty of fluids.

Christmas stress

Data from the annual cold and flu scale, which collates information from doctors, schools, pharmacists and employers to measure infection rates, shows around 15% of the population has a respiratory infection.

Dr Douglas Fleming, director of the Royal College of GPs' research unit, told BBC News Online: "We always see a surge in cases in December.

"It may have something to do with the weather.

"It may be something to do with the spread of respiratory infection in children at this time of year."

The main virus responsible is thought to be respiratory syntactical virus which causes obstruction and inflammation of tiny airways in the lungs.

Sufferers will have a runny nose, an ear infection and a mild fever which develops into breathlessness, rapid breathing and a strong, dry cough.

It is usually a fairly minor condition, but young babies and the elderly can be affected more severely.

Time off work?

Dr Fleming warned parents should watch out for: "If you've got a young child with a respiratory illness and a troublesome cough, and they are not taking fluids adequately and has breathing problems."

He said for adults the party season helps the virus spread.

"It doesn't make it worse, but what is true is that you have parties, and people are closer to each other, so you're more likely to catch the virus."

But he said the recent cold snap was unlikely to be directly responsible for the rise in cases because the effect would be more delayed.

He said people with a virus should exercise common sense.

"You should try to avoid close contact.

"As far as work is concerned, if someone's running a significant temperature, they shouldn't go to work.

"You should bother your GP if you have breathing difficulties, but not for a cold or a mild fever."

See also:

11 Jan 02 | Health
03 Nov 01 | Health
05 Aug 02 | Health
14 May 02 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes