Horrible cold dubbed 'worst lurgy ever' spreading in UK: The symptoms and what you should do

By Robert Harries

A horrible and hard-to-shift cold is spreading across the country, with some complaining that it’s the “worst lurgy they’ve ever had”.

Many people are reporting that a particularly hard-to-shift illness is going around, as the nights get shorter and the temperatures start to drop.

It has been expected for some time that this winter would see an increase in colds and flu due to the fact that many more people are socialising largely without restrictions for the first time since March, 2020.

Read more: Top Welsh doctor's take on what to expect from this year's flu season

On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford admitted that he was “very anxious, that there will be a higher circulation of flu this year”. You can read more about what he said as we head into the winter months here.

Symptoms of the lurgy can be similar to a heavy cold or the flu, and NHS guidance says that if you have a mild illness, then the condition can be managed from home.

However, due to the prevalence of Covid-19, which continues to circulate in the UK, it’s important to rule that out due to many symptoms being the same.

ZOE, the world’s largest ongoing study into Covid-19, said: “A negative result from a lateral flow test is not reliable enough to be sure you’re definitely not infected, so if your symptoms persist it’s best to get a PCR test to be sure.”

The symptoms and what you should do

NHS guidance says that symptoms of a cold or lurgy should be treated with:

  • rest and sleep
  • keep warm
  • 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)

However, you should see a GP if:

  • your symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks
  • your symptoms get suddenly worse
  • your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
  • you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms
  • you’re feeling short of breath or develop chest pain
  • 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

The guidance also states that 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.

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