Reports of a “brutal” cold spreading across the UK have emerged in recent weeks, with sufferers describing the symptoms as debilitating. With new Covid variants, such as Pirola, HV.1 and JN.1, circulating, Dr Roger Henderson, GP and Olbas expert, shared how to differentiate between the different illnesses.

What is the winter bug/cold currently circulating that some people are describing as “brutal”?

Dr Henderson said: “Predictably, as we make our way through the winter months the cases of people suffering with cold and flu like symptoms will increase. Each case of the common cold or flu is different, so will affect each of us in different ways.

“It is said that the average adult gets between two and four colds per year, so it could be the case that this is the first cold you have had this year and don’t remember how debilitating it can be.”

What are the symptoms and how do they differ from a normal cold?

Dr Henderson said: “The symptoms of the ‘brutal cold’ are directly comparable to that of a normal cold. Patients should expect to feel symptoms like fever, headaches, congestion, coughs, and fatigue. There is very little difference between this ‘brutal’ cold, and the common cold, but it may last a little bit longer.

“Whilst we have been out of lockdown and Covid protection for a while, our immune systems are still recovering from the shielding that came with remaining in our bubbles, so colds and flus have felt more severe than they did previously.”

Could it be a new Covid strain?

Dr Henderson said: “Covid has played a part of our lives for almost three years, with various strains being detected throughout that time. It has been said that doctors recently discovered a descendent of the Pirola Variant, which has been found across the UK.

“Some of the symptoms of the new strain mirror that of a common cold, but there are some differences to look out for such as: headaches, diarrhoea, and vomiting. The best way to check if what you are feeling is Covid or a cold is to test. This will help to put your mind at ease and make sure you are doing all you can to protect others.”

What’s the best way to treat it?

Dr Henderson said: “Generally, colds will last around a week and you should expect to make a quick recovery if you drink plenty of fluids and rest up.

“To help ease the symptoms, you could turn to over the counter medication. For example, using a decongestant oil, will help clear your airways and make sure your sinuses are clear to restore normal breathing.

“If your symptoms persist for longer than three weeks, you should seek an appointment with your GP who will advise on the next steps to return back to full health.”

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