BRITS all across the country are falling sick with a nasty illness which feels like Covid – but isn’t.
People claiming they feel “very wiped out” are surprised when Covid tests are coming back negative despite experiencing extreme flu and cold-like symptoms.
Experts have warned increased mixing indoors due to the cold weather and weakened immunity among the population from years of lockdowns could be putting more people at risk to catching bugs and viruses.
Writer, Catherine Lux, took to Twitter to ask if anyone else if they had the nasty ‘supercold’ which feels like Covid.
“It lasts for bloody ages,” Catherine said. “And has left me with a really sore throat that maybe feels a *little* bit like a potential throat/chest infection?”
Hundreds of social media users flocked to Catherine’s tweet saying they had experienced something similar in recent weeks.
It comes as a surge in respiratory infections is sweeping the population, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
One user said; “Mine started with a really sore throat, lost my voice completely, ears hurt, headache then it was a dry cough which would last all night, then a super blocked nose and chesty mucus cough, which I can’t shake off”.
Another Tweeter said: “Sore throat, lost my voice, dry cough, blocked nose and now in chesty mucus cough stage. No appetite as well.”
While several unwell users said they were shocked when their Covid tests were came back negative.
“Had it for nearly two months, different antibiotics, nothing worked, tested everyday for Covid and was negative, ended with sinusitis and still not 100 per cent – it’s exhausting,” one said.
And another added: “It’s such a weird one I tested negative for Covid three times over two to three weeks as I was convinced it must be.”
For the first time since the pandemic began there are more people being admitted to hospital with flu than Covid.
Fresh figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found that flu hospitalisations are the highest they’ve been in four years.
The rise could not come at a worse time, as backlog of people waiting for surgery reaches 7.2million and nurses across the country strike in a bid for better pay.
The NHS is also dealing with an outbreak of Strep A – which has so far killed 19 children.
The surge in cases is putting a huge strain on NHS 111 and pharmacists, with shortages of penicillin and other antibiotics reported across the UK
How to tell the difference between flu, the common cold and Covid
With lateral flow tests no longer free, it can be hard to know whether you have a cold, flu, or Covid.
But here are some tips on how to distinguish between all three winter bugs.
The symptoms of flu are very similar to those of a very bad cold.
The NHS says this includes a suffer high temperature of 38C or more.
A high temperature had previously been a symptom of Covid, but the experts said that this is less likely with the Omicron strain.
You will also experience body aches and a dry cough.
You may also have difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and feeling or being sick.
You are less likely to experience these with a cold or the Omicron strain.
So when it comes to spotting the difference between flu and Covid, it should be straight forward.
Experts at the CDC said: “People with flu virus infection are potentially contagious for about one day before they show symptoms. However, it is believed that flu is spread mainly by people who are symptomatic with flu virus infection.
“Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious during the first 3-4 days of their illness, but some people might remain contagious for slightly longer periods.
“Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for even longer.”
But there is a finer line between a cold and Omicron, so you should look out for any secondary infections such as ear infections.
It’s also important to note that you could have coronavirus, but have an asymptomatic infection – meaning you might not know you have the bug.
The easiest way to check you have Covid is to take a test.
These are available for free for some groups – such as those who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill from the bug – for example if you are immunosuppressed.
You may also be asked to take a test if you are going to hospital for a procedure.
The most recent data from ZOE states that people who are catching Omicron are showing specific symptoms.
Data from app states that there are 20 symptoms Brits should be on the lookout for.
- Sore throat – 63.55%
- Runny nose – 53.04%
- Headache – 53.02%
- Blocked nose – 52.47%
- Cough no phlegm – 52.06%
- Sneezing – 47.02%
- Cough with phlegm – 45.79%
- Hoarse voice – 43.86%
- Muscle pain aches – 29.46%
- Fatigue – 22.97%
- Dizzy light headed – 21.11%
- Altered smell – 19.82%
- Swollen neck glands – 17.72%
- Eye soreness – 16.41%
- Chest pain tightness – 16.26%
- Shortness of breath – 15.9%
- Loss of smell – 14.45%
- Earache – 13.96%
- Chills or shivers – 12.98%
- Joint pain shoulders – 11.08%
Experts at the CDC in the US said that one main difference, is that you are infectious longer if you have Covid, compared to the flu or cold.
They stated: “On average, people can begin spreading the virus that causes Covid-19 2-3 days before their symptoms begin, but infectiousness peaks one day before their symptoms begin.
“On average, people are considered contagious for about eight days after their symptoms began.”
Professor Tim Spector, scientific co-founder of ZOE last week said we are likely to be hit with a combination of viruses this winter.
“With the increase in colds and rhinovirus, as well as Covid-19, and the likelihood of a major seasonal flu epidemic,” he said.
He added that colds due to rhinovirus are increasing rapidly and are currently around five times more common than Covid-19.
If you’re suffering from a cold, it’s likely you will pick up ear infections and infections of the sinuses.
In general though, you may experience:
- runny nose
- body aches
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