What a 'super-cold' is and its symptoms explained as Britons suffer following lockdown end
An increasing numbers of people are calling NHS 111 and their GP because of a “super-cold”, with many sharing on social media that it is the “worst cold” ever.
The UK Health Security Agency has reported an uptick in calls to 111 about colds and flu, a cough, or difficulty breathing above expected levels, especially in patients aged 15 to 44, The Times reports.
There has been speculation over whether the symptoms are due to a super-cold or coronavirus. Experts have warned against self-diagnosing and urged sufferers to take a Covid-19 test if they are experiencing a cough, temperature or loss of taste and smell.
“If you have any symptoms of respiratory infection you should stay at home to prevent transmission and get a test done for Covid-19 to rule in or out,” says Alan McNally, professor of microbial evolutionary genomics at the University of Birmingham.
“Trying to self-diagnose is a surefire way to send Covid-19 case rates soaring again.”
Are we seeing a super-cold?
It is unlikely we are seeing the circulation of a super-cold, says Professor Neil Mabbott an immunopathology expert at the University of Edinburgh.
“Rather our immune systems have had limited exposure to colds over the past 18 months [during lockdown and Covid-129 restrictions] so our immunity to these diseases will have waned during this period and will be less effective against colds than would be expected normally.”
Data from Royal College of General Practitioners shows that incidence of the common cold is considerably higher this year – about a third higher than this time last year.
The incidence rate was at 3.1 per 100,000 people in the week ending 3 October, compared with 2.1 in the week ending October 4, 2020.
Why is this happening now?
Increasing reports of bad colds and flu highlight “the power of the lockdown, mask-wearing, social distancing and sanitation measures introduced in response” to the pandemic, Profesor Mabbott added.
“Not only was this very effective in reducing transmission of the coronavirus within the community, but at the same time it had the additional benefit of reducing the spread of colds and other common transmissible diseases.”
As the meaures eased and people began mixing indoors and travelling on public transport, levels of cold and other respiratory diseases were going to rise naturally.
What should you do?
For most people with a cold, plenty of fluids and paracetamol should help ease the symptoms, according to experts.
Self-isolating shouldn’t be necessary if you’ve ruled out Covid-19 or aren not exhibiting the same symptoms.