Are you suffering from a stinking cold or a hacking cough? Tim Bowen spreads his germs.

There is, as yet, no cure for the common cold and many of us will catch a cold or have a cold at some point. Of course, colds vary in their intensity. They can often be slight but if you are unlucky, they can be bad, nasty or heavy. If they are particularly bad, they can be described as stinking, as in ‘I’m not coming to work today. I’ve got a stinking cold’, or, if accompanied by frequent nose-blowing, streaming, as in ‘He’s got a streaming cold. He’s got through a whole box of tissues today’.

Colds can often lead to coughs, which can also be mild or slight but, in more serious cases, nasty or severe. A tickly cough is relatively mild and accompanied by a tickling sensation at the back of the throat. A chesty cough is caused by an infection in the lungs and is generally more serious. A cough can be noisy, in which case it can be described as hacking or rasping. A cough that lasts for a long time is persistent or, even worse, chronic.

Coughs and colds are often accompanied by headaches, which can also vary in intensity from mild or slight to severe or terrible and, in extreme cases, to pounding, splitting, blinding or thumping, as in ‘I’ve got a splitting headache. I’m going to lie down for a while’.

The best solution is to relieve the symptoms by having a hot drink, taking an aspirin and going to bed.