Relief for adults' flu or cold symptoms

Self-treatment recommendations

Tips from the pharmacist and santé24 doctors to alleviate typical symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, a cold or a flu.

What you can do in general:

  • Fresh air: Air your rooms regularly. The best method is to air regularly and thoroughly but briefly
  • Increase the humidity in the rooms
  • Take care of your body and get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and nicotine
  • Drink plenty, e.g. water, herbal teas, ginger tea or diluted fruit juices
  • Suck cough drops, and gargle (with salt water, for example).

Treating individual symptoms

From a medical point of view, it makes more sense to fight symptoms individually than to take combination remedies. These usually contain too little of the active ingredient that is really needed. Instead, they tend to contain a range of other active ingredients that are not needed at all. santé24 therefore recommends the following:

  • If the cough does not "loosen" or if thick mucus forms, you should use an expectorant containing the active ingredient acetylcysteine, for example. However, plant-based products containing ivy, ribwort or mallow are also suitable. Expectorants liquefy the mucus, so that it is easier to dislodge and cough up.
  • Cough suppressants suppress the urge to cough. This can be particularly useful if you have a dry, irritable cough before bedtime. During the day, you can soothe the urge to cough by sucking lozenges, for example which contain sage. As a rule, there is no point in combining expectorants and cough suppressants.
  • Lozenges or sprays can alleviate swallowing difficulties due to their local anaesthetic effect. In addition, plant-based sweets – containing sage, thyme, Icelandic moss or Ems mineral salts, for example – may be helpful.
  • Steam inhalation (max. 45°C!): Inhaling steam helps to liquefy and dissolve secretions and reduce swelling of the nasal mucous membranes. Herbs (e.g. chamomile and thyme) or essential oils (e.g. eucalyptus or peppermint oil) can be added. Adults should inhale two to five times a day for five to ten minutes. Attention: Infants and children under two years of age must not inhale steam or use essential oils.
  • Nasal sprays or drops containing the active ingredients xylometazoline or oxymetazoline can reduce swelling of the mucous membranes and relieve the feeling that your nose is blocked. However, they should be used no more than two to three times a day and for a maximum of five to seven days. You should try to use products which do not contain preservatives
  • Sea water or isotonic saltwater solutions can be used in the form of sprays and rinses to cleanse and moisten the nasal mucous membranes

As a matter of principle, an elevated body temperature means that the body's defences have been activated. It does not necessarily have to be reduced. However, if you find that you can't sleep, reducing your fever may lead to improved sleep.
Please note: Fever-reducing medications can sometimes lead to heavy sweating. You should therefore put on sweat-absorbent clothing and avoid draughts.

  • Drugs which contain paracetamol are the best way to lower an elevated temperature or fever (by a maximum of 0.5 to 1°C), relieve pain and feelings of pressure in the head, and reduce aches and pains.
  • Cold teas containing lime blossoms or elderberry blossoms can encourage sweating and lower the body temperature.
  • At night you should wear thin, sweat-absorbing pyjamas and use a thin bedspread if you have a high temperature or fever. The room temperature should not be too high, and the air should not be too dry (see general measures).
  • A few drops of products containing peppermint oil can be applied to the forehead and temples and may help to relieve headaches.



Under which circumstances should you call a doctor?

  • If you feel extremely ill/exhausted or have had a temperature of more than 38.3°C for more than two days or if the fever cannot be reduced despite taking fever-reducing medication in the correct dosage (see package insert with daily maximum dose).
  • A cough which produces phlegm containing pus or blood.
  • Coughing fits until you vomit.
  • A chesty cough at night which prevents you from sleeping.
  • If you have a fever of 38.3°C or above COMBINED WITH a cough.
  • If you feel short of breath, call 144.
  • If you have pain in the ears, mouth, throat or joints for example or symptoms such as coughing and difficulty swallowing and these are becoming rapidly worse.
  • If your sight or speech are adversely affected at the same time. If you have a severe headache with neck pain or lapses in consciousness.
  • If you do not feel better after five days or if the symptoms return after initial improvement. Individuals aged 65 years and over, individuals who have a compromised immune system (e.g. due to cancer therapy, transplant etc.) or chronic underlying conditions and/or take medication regularly (e.g. for lung diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, high blood pressure) and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to contact their doctor by phone in good time.
Because health is everything

Through the santé24 telemedicine service, SWICA offers its customers medical assistance 24 hours a day.The doctors and medical specialists at santé24 are there for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to answer questions about the coronavirus and about prevention, illness, accident and maternity. Advice is free of charge to SWICA customers.

SWICA is there for you

The doctors and specialists from the santé24 telemedicine service are there for you at any time, even at night or at the weekend, 24 hours a day.
santé24 – your Swiss telemedicine service
Phone: +41 44 404 86 86 (24 hours a day)


For your health at home

SWICA supports you with medical services and advice around the clock and has useful recommendations and products for promoting health and preventing illness. Here you can get valuable tips on staying in shape while at home and working from home. You can also discover the online courses and coaching sessions that SWICA supports.

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