Covid: Dr Jenny Harries discusses risk of flu
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Dr Philippa Kaye, a GP based in London, explained the prevalence of the super bug hitting the UK. “We are mixing in a way that we haven’t been mixing over the past 18 months,” she said. When the UK’s leisure activities were shut down by a nation-wide lockdown, millions of people were cocooned from viral infections. Now that winter is ahead of us, and indoor social mixing is similar to that of pre-pandemic levels, the viruses are able to run rampant.
People took to social media to detail their experiences of the super bug.
Rebecca London, 24, from Bournemouth said that a usual cold for her would mean “a runny nose, sneezing, a bit of sore throat and feeling a bit rundown”.
But, having caught a cold this autumn, Rebecca said she had experienced “nothing like this”, where she could barely sleep – and numerous lateral flow test confirmed it was not Covid.
One woman was “totally floored” by the illness, while another posted on Facebook: “I’ve had a terrible cold for nearly three weeks, can’t seem to get rid of it.”
How to ease symptoms
For a throat that feels like sandpaper, one of the most effective treatments is to gargle with salt water.
The NHS confirmed that gargling with warm, salty water can “help soothe a sore throat and shorten how long it lasts”.
While this approach is unsuitable for children, other methods – that are suitable for adults and children – include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating cool or soft foods
- Avoiding smoking or smoky places
- Sucking ice cubes, ice lollies or hard sweets (not suitable for young children).
How to gargle with salt water
- Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water (warm water helps salt dissolve).
- Gargle with the solution, then spit it out (do not swallow it).
- Repeat as often as you like.
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You can also help to relieve the pain associated with a sore throat by taking paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Medicated lozenges, containing a local anaesthetic, antiseptic, or anti-inflammatory medicine could be helpful.
For a blocked nose, decongestant sprays or tablets can be useful, but they are not suitable for children under the age of six, and should not be used for longer than five days.
While people might be tempted to try supplements, such as vitamin C, echinacea, or garlic, there’s “little evidence” that these speed up the recovery process.
The Mayo Clinic added that adding a dollop of honey in a hot tea may help with coughs.
Moreover, using a humidifier can help to add moisture to the air in your home, which can help to loosen up congestion.
The NHS advice you to seek support from your doctor if any of the following conditions apply:
- Your symptoms do not improve after three weeks
- Your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
- Your symptoms get suddenly worse
- You’re feeling short of breath or develop chest pain.
While battling the cold infection, it is helpful not to spread the virus to other people.
You will still be infectious until all your symptoms have gone, which can take up to two weeks.
“Colds are spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours,” said the NHS.
To reduce the risk of spreading a cold, wash your hands often with warm water and soap, use tissues to catch germs when you cough or sneeze, and bin used tissues as soon as possible.
Be aware that it is likely you would have spread the infection for a few days before symptoms first emerged.
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