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How to treat your first cold in over a year

Any sign of illness and you might have a shock-horror moment of thinking: ‘…Is it Covid?’

One negative lateral flow later and you’re relieved, but still feel rotten and order a PCR test. But then that comes back negative, too.

It’s the ‘super cold’, or so it’s been dubbed.

In arming ourselves with hand gel, isolation and masks, other illnesses like the common cold have been kept further at bay than usual.

Some people believe this has made us less equipped to fight them off like normal – though the evidence to support this is thought to be flimsy or inconsequential by some experts.

Radio host Richie Brave asked on Twitter: ‘Has anyone got this cold that’s going round? Without sounding dramatic I don’t I’ve ever had one that’s mashed me up so much??? It’s like a super cold or something lol’.

Liked thousands of times, people have commented with similar woes.

One person replied: ‘I had a cold this week for the first time since 2019BC and it wasnt great. Even cold medication didn’t seem to do much! All my latty flow and PCr tests came back negative.’

Another said: ‘Yes, and it’s horrific and has now developed into sinusitis. Not Covid as, like others, have tested negative.’

Someone else added: ‘It just won’t go away! I’ve had it for like 5 weeks I swear. I steam daily, drink fluids, relax….. and it still won’t budge.’

As so many of us have been extra cautious of germs since the arrival of Covid, we’ve forgotten how to treat the common cold.

Even if this cold isn’t a super mutation, we’re so unused to our flu symptoms that we could do with a refresher.

So what can you do?

How to check if you have a cold

First things first – if you experience any symptoms of Covid (a continuous cough, a high fever, a loss or change to your senses of smell or taste), arrange a PCR test and isolate until you get the results.

The lateral flow test should only be used if you don’t have symptoms, so don’t count on a negative result from your usual test as a sign that you’re Covid-free.

The key is to rule out Covid-19 first. Then, if it’s not coronavirus, you can see if you’re experiencing the below symptoms:

  • a blocked or runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • coughs
  • sneezing
  • a raised temperature
  • pressure in your ears and face
  • loss of taste and smell

If you are, it’s likely you’ve been taken down by a cold.

What can you do to treat the common cold?

Sadly colds have to be waited out – eventually they’ll go.

Babylon GP Dr Keith Grimes tells ‘Colds are common, and it is no surprise that as we move from summer towards winter we are seeing them emerge.

‘This is also driven by children returning to school and people returning to work.

‘What is less common is that we are in the middle of a pandemic, and many of us have been isolated for nearly a year and a half. 

‘This means that the colds we are getting are giving us symptoms we haven’t had in a while, which can make them feel more severe.’

Your cold might feel particularly bad simply because you haven’t had to battle one in so long.

He adds: ‘There is no evidence that colds have become any more nasty in the past 18 months, nor that your immune systems have become weakened through lack of exposure.’

Superintendent pharmacist at Medicine Direct, Hussain Abdeh, tells us to treat a common cold you should:

  • Gargle: ‘For sore throats gargling with salt water can help to reduce the pain and swelling. Using warm water and around one teaspoon of salt per cup should be sufficient.’
  • Keep hydrated: ‘Staying hydrated is a vital part of treating a cold. This will help to stave off dehydration and can also help to ease congestion. Do not consume any food or drink that can make you dehydrated, such as high-salt foods, coffee, or alcohol.’
  • Keep warm: ‘Drinking warm drinks such as tea and honey or soup can help with congestion, which allows your mucus to flow more easily. This can work to unblock your nose and unclog your throat.’
  • Try steaming: ‘This is another tactic for easing congestion. You can do this by covering your head with a towel and inhaling the steam from a bowl of hot water, or even just go and stand under a hot shower for 15 minutes or so. Breathing in the steam helps to stimulate the flow of mucus, making it easier to breathe.’
  • Rest up: ‘Getting enough rest is vital for soothing cold symptoms. You need to recharge your body to strengthen your immune system, so you should ensure that you get enough sleep each night and do not overdo it during the day while you feel under the weather. You should also avoid any strenuous exercises while you are suffering from a cold.’

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