'Worst cold ever' spreading across UK as many 'can't shift' sickness bug
A sickness bug described as the 'worst lurgy ever' is starting to spread across more parts of the UK.
A growing number of people are now complaining of feeling unwell in the north west - and some say they are struggling to shift it.
Last week, many in the south of England spoke of feeling 'drained' and 'run down' by a cold lasting, in some cases, weeks.
The Liverpool Echo reports that many on Merseyside are now coming down with something similar.
They are concerned as it seems to be spreading, with social media showing full of people reporting that they have the bug.
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One woman says she has been "totally floored" for weeks - and more and more are saying they have been ill, or know someone who is under the weather.
Dr Philippa Kaye, a GP based in London, said that it's not just the north west - numbers have already been as high as you'd see in a normal winter.
She told the BBC: "We've actually been seeing a rise in the number of coughs and colds and viral infections.
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"We are mixing in a way that we haven't been mixing over the past 18 months.
"During those first lockdowns, we saw numbers of other [non-Covid] infections fall. We think that that was primarily due to the restrictions on meeting up."
Sharing his experience on social media, one man, who lives in Formby, Merseyside, said he has come down with the "worst lurgy he's ever had".
Others from Sefton - seven miles away - have posted on Facebook say they have been badly hit by illness.
One woman wrote: "Yep, I've been full of cold for the last few days. First one in over two years and its a doozy!"
Another said: "I've had a terrible cold for nearly three weeks, can't seem to get rid of it."
One woman, from Maghill, also on Merseyside, wrote: "Two weeks now and it's not funny at all. First cold I've had in years and it's floored me."
Another told: "It's gone through my house over the last two weeks. We've all had covid, but we did tests just in case. All were negative, though."
Rebecca London, a retail worker from Bournemouth, meanwhile told Radio 1 show Newsbeat last week: "Nothing I have had has been like this.
"I barely slept, I'd wake up in the night just coughing, a constantly runny nose and feeling so tired."
What to do
If it is just a cold, your symptoms can be managed at home.
NHS guidance says you should treat a cold with:
• drink plenty of water (fruit juice or squash mixed with water is okay) to avoid dehydration
• gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat (not suitable for children)
You should see a GP if:
• your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks
• your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
• you have a long-term medical condition – for example, diabetes, or a heart, lung or kidney condition
• you have a weakened immune system – for example, because you're having chemotherapy
You can avoid catching a cold by washing your hands regularly with warm water and soap, not sharing towels or other household items with someone who has a cold, staying fit and healthy, and avoiding touching your face.