‘Super cold’, Covid or flu? 'Super cold' symptoms and difference of UK’s 'worst cold ever' to Covid, explained

With more people than ever appearing to be hit by an aggressive common cold this autumn, here’s what you need to know about the nasty cold doing the rounds in the UK – and how it differs from Covid

‘Super cold’, Covid or flu? 'Super cold' symptoms and difference of UK’s 'worst cold ever' to Covid, explained (Image credit: Getty Images/Canva Pro)
‘Super cold’, Covid or flu? 'Super cold' symptoms and difference of UK’s 'worst cold ever' to Covid, explained (Image credit: Getty Images/Canva Pro)

As the weather turns colder in Scotland and across the UK ahead of the clocks going back for 2021 to mark the approach of winter, lots of us are finding ourselves coming down with common colds and the flu.

While flu vaccinations are available to anyone wanting an additional layer of protection against the lurgy this autumn, many people are reporting to have contracted ‘the worst cold ever’ and a ‘super cold’ over recent weeks.

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Government and health officials alike are still stressing that while common colds and a potential ‘fludemic’ are to be expected this winter, you should still get tested if you have any coronavirus symptoms.

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But what are the symptoms of the so-called ‘super cold’ and how do they differ to Covid-19 symptoms?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is causing the ‘super cold’ in UK?

Since schools returned in August and people have been mixing socially in indoor spaces under reduced Covid restrictions in Scotland and across the UK, common colds have re-emerged with a vengeance as temperatures drop.

While common colds and flu-like symptoms are to be expected at this time of year, the presence of coronavirus in our lives has meant that we have been less exposed to bugs and lurgies over the past year as we usually would.

This had led to lots of patients across the UK experiencing tougher, more aggressive forms of colds and flu-like viruses than usual - with sore throats, headaches, coughing and runny noses commonly reported among those experiencing the ‘worst cold ever’ this autumn.

How do cold symptoms differ to Covid?

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When common colds and flus present some overlap with Covid symptoms, it’s can be easy to assume that you simply have a cold or alternatively might have contracted Covid-19.

The symptoms for coronavirus continue to be: a high temperature or fever, sudden loss or change in sense of taste or smell and a new, continuous cough.

If you have any of the above or multiple Covid symptoms, you should self-isolate and order a PCR test to take at home as soon as possible.

But ‘super cold’ symptoms reportedly include extremely sore throats, a hacking cough and migraines.

But common colds and the flu usually present a range of different symptoms and more of them than coronavirus typically will.

According to the NHS, the most common cold symptoms appear gradually and include:

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- 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

Although the NHS’ list of cold symptoms presents some overlap with coronavirus symptoms, Covid is predominantly characterised by the three symptoms listed above – with these presenting themselves from two to five days after catching the virus.

How long do common colds last?

According to the NHS, common colds typically disappear from one to two weeks after becoming infected - with children sometimes seeing symptoms last for longer.

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You will continue to be infectious to other people in this time, so taking care to use tissues when blowing your nose, covering your mouth when coughing and washing your hands regularly remain key ways to keep chances of passing on your cold to others low.

NHS guidance states that you should contact your GP if cold symptoms last for more than three weeks following at-home treatment with rest, hydration and cold and flu medicines.

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