Are you or your family feeling under the weather this week? You're not alone, and there's help you can get without leaving the house.

Alyssa with her daughters Skye and Willow Shaw at the launch of the Under the Weather Campaign

As we go back to school, back to work or just return to our routine after the Christmas break, many of us are feeling under the weather, and a growing number are coming down with the flu.  

Whether you or a loved one has a cold, the flu, a sore throat or an earache, the HSE has lots of common sense advice for these common ailments on its website  The straight-talking and easy to navigate site, developed in partnership with GPs and pharmacists, gives users clear and practical information on how to manage a range of common illnesses.

This site describes each ailment, tells you how long each one should last, gives you information on what to take to recover from these illnesses, and when to seek advice from your GP or pharmacist. The site also includes a series of videos featuring GPs and pharmacists providing their individual insights and expertise on dealing with these common illnesses.

Skye and Willow Shaw at the launch of this year’s Under the Weather campaign.

Here are some of the common sense facts that the site helps to promote:

  • A cough, while irritating, can often last up to three weeks – many people feel this is a concern but it is quite normal
  • Influenza is quite a serious illness that can keep you off your feet for a week or two – but it doesn’t respond to antibiotics. We treat the flu with rest, fluids, over the counter medicines.  Keep an eye on older people or those with long-term illness, who might experience complications and need to see the doctor
  • Earaches and sore throats can be very painful, but again, the vast majority don’t respond to an antibiotic. We treat them with over the counter medicines like paracetamol or ibuprofen, and most resolve by themselves within a few days

Pharmacists provide expert health advice in every community on how to ease the symptoms of common conditions, as well as expert advice, tips and guidance on what over-the-counter remedies can work for you. Your pharmacist is also there to help, and will let you know when you should seek advice from your doctor.

Dr. Robert Cunney , Consultant Microbiologist at Temple St Hospital, and the HSE’s Lead for Antimicrobial Resistance: “Research has shown that a lot of people still believe that antibiotics can help to treat colds, flu, earaches, tummy bugs and rashes. In fact antibiotics do not cure these common infections. Learning how to manage common illnesses with confidence and common sense is a life skill and browsing is a good start in developing this life skill.