If you’ve been sick recently — not with Covid, but an especially callous cold — you’re far from alone. People all around the world are complaining about the “worst cold ever,” including 24-year-old Rebecca London who experienced ”a runny nose, sneezing, a bit of a sore throat and feeling a bit rundown” for over a week.
“Nothing like this,” she said of her former colds and flus. “I barely slept, I’d wake up in the night just coughing, a constantly runny nose and feeling so tired.” London had been so sick that she tested repeatedly for Covid, but all her tests were negative.
Victims have taken to Twitter with similar concerns, calling their infections the “worst colds” and “freshers flu on steroids.”
Another said, “This is legit the worst cold/flu I’ve ever had, feel like I’ve been hit with a bus.”
People online are asking: “Anyone else been struck down by this non-Covid chest/sinus infection? It’s been 2 weeks and I’m exhausted. Very grateful Miss Rona hasn’t paid me a visit but this is something else. Never been this continually ill before [sic].”
Meanwhile, many commiserate, as they went through the same thing.
Assuming none of the aforementioned cases are Covid (which they don’t seem to be) it begs the question: What is going on with our immune systems?
“We’ve actually been seeing a rise in the number of coughs and colds and viral infections,” Dr. Philippa Kaye, a London general practitioner, told BBC, explaining that the numbers are “as high as you’d see in a normal winter and the main reason is because of the easing of coronavirus restrictions.”
“We are mixing in a way that we haven’t been mixing over the past 18 months,” she continued. “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.”
In short: The protocols we’ve put in place to prevent the spread of Covid also stopped other ailments, like the cold and flu. Now that we’re going back out again — so are our germs, even if they’re not necessarily infected with the coronavirus.
“Most of these things are respiratory driven, so say somebody talks or coughs or sneezes — you breathe it in,” Dr. Philippa reiterated.
If you feel sick, contact a medical professional immediately and test for Covid, to ensure you don’t spread it further. Otherwise, Dr. Phillipa suggests “loads of fluids and rest, over-the-counter simple painkillers for headaches and aches and pains. Even simple things like honey in a hot drink can help ease a sore throat.”
However if your symptoms persist or worsen, Dr. Philippa encourages taking action. “If you become more unwell, if you cough up blood, have chest pain, if you have shortness of breath or chest tightness, then you need to seek medical advice.”