This December may be exceptionally mild, but Christmas parties are still prime opportunities to catch a cough or cold.
"Weather forecasts are anticipating that Christmas Day temperatures could be as high as 18 degrees celsius. Although people often think that the cold weather increases your chance of getting sick, there are plenty of germs around at all times of year," Dr Sarah Jarvis, spokesperson for Covonia, says.
"It may not be freezing, but it’s certainly cold enough for us to have the central heating on – and the dry environment this creates can increase the spread of viruses.
"Add that to all the close contact we get from socialising over the Christmas period, and we can’t afford to ignore the simple measures that will protect us."
Below, Dr Jarvis offers her dos and don'ts for avoiding bugs and limiting your chances of catching a cough this holiday season.
· DON’T keep your partner up all night with a cough
When you lie down in bed at night to go to sleep, it becomes harder for your body to clear your airways naturally and mucus can build up in your throat which is why people often feel their cough is worse at night.
Make a "nest" of cushions to prop yourself up, and speak to your pharmacist about night-time cough preparations.
· DO keep up hand-washing
Viruses spread via coughs, sneezes and hand contact. They can travel up to speeds of 90 miles an hour and can reach up to 30 feet away so one cough can spread much further and quicker than you think.
Make sure you wash hands frequently to reduce your risk of spreading germs. Wash hands especially before eating, during office hours and before you touch your face.
· DON’T use a handkerchief
Opt for a tissue, then throw it away and wash your hands again. Sneezing and coughing into a tissue isn’t only polite, it reduces the droplets surrounding the air and landing on surfaces, minimising the risk of infecting others.
· DO look after yourself
Over Christmas people tend to indulge in food and drink and have more late nights than usual leaving them more susceptible to illness. This can really take its toll on the body.
Make sure you don’t overdo it, get plenty of sleep, keep up the exercise and eat healthy foods.
· DO look at the active ingredients in cough remedies when looking for a medicine
Key active ingredients to look out for when finding a cough syrup include dextromethorphan and menthol.
· DO avoid sharing things like food and cutlery if a family member has a cough or cold
If a child is sick make sure you show them how to practice hand-washing. Viruses are most easily spread at home.
· DON’T suffer a cough
Research from Covonia revealed that Brits are ignoring cough symptoms for up to eight days before doing anything about it and nearly half (48%) of adults don’t take medicine to reduce these symptoms.
Over the course of eight days, an infected person could unknowingly spread their germs to dozens of people.
For most people, the vast majority of coughs are caused by virus infections and antibiotics won’t help at all. But there are lots of options available from retailers and pharmacists which can help relieve the symptoms.
Covonia Original Bronchial Balsam (RRP £4.69 for 150ml) is for dry coughs and irritation in the throat and chest; Covonia Chesty Cough Mixture Mentholated (RRP £4.49 for 150ml) is for chesty coughs; and Covonia Hot Dose Cough & Cold Syrup (RRP £5.49) helps to reduce the urge to cough throughout the night.