A ‘brutal’ illness that’s been described as the worst cold ever is sweeping the UK this winter.
It’s that time of year again when everybody seems to be feeling under the weather.
As temperatures drop, coughs and colds seem to crop up everywhere.
But now it appears that a brand new ‘super cold’ is going viral – quite literally – and some are calling it the worst wintertime illness ever.
Different cold viruses spread about every year.
But since the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, it seems there’s a brand new illness spreading all over the world that’s ‘worse than any winter bug’.
The so-called ‘super cold’ is just as nasty as it sounds, and this year’s iteration may be the worst one yet.
It has the typical cold-like symptoms of fevers, headaches, blocked noses, coughs and extreme fatigue.
One person writes: “Just coming off the back end of a brutal cold that’s lasted about three weeks, during which my sinuses have been almost completely closed, relaxing only for brief periods while also producing mucus at an alarming rate.
“Emerging from my bed this morning, I could breathe through my nose again. I could smell things.
“It still feels like somebody poured porridge into the back of my face, but it’s finally over and life is beautiful again.”
Another adds: “I caught it in October, I was bedridden for days and then spent another week housebound, constantly looking at my phone to see if it had been four hours since my last dose of paracetamol.
“I’m assuming it’s a variant that isn’t picked up by the tests, it was worse than any winter bug I’d had before 2020.”
While a third agrees: “Currently on day five of it. Feel absolutely lousy. So much mucus it’s ridiculous. Already feeling anxious about having to call in sick again tomorrow but I refuse to go back to work until I’m well enough.”
There are a few theories as to why colds seem to be much worse in the years since the pandemic.
One states that we’ve simply gotten used to not catching viruses after spending time socially distancing and wearing masks.
“All of us have forgotten about what common colds used to be like, and we’re getting them now again,” Dr William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, told ABC News.
It’s also possible that avoiding viruses for a couple of years has left our collective immunity to colds much lower.
Dr Peter Chin-Hong, professor of Medicine and Infectious disease specialist at UCSF, told ABC: “Lack of exposure to viruses over time might make a cold seem much worse than before because you haven’t been exposed a little bit along the way.”
Virologist Dr Phillip Gould also explained to ITV that many of these long-lasting colds are actually a string of different viruses experienced back to back.
He said: “The probability of just having a single infection in one month may not be the case – you can be infected with a few types of viruses, or be exposed to one after the other.”
These so-called ‘super colds’ are not just impacting the UK, either.
And Australia, too, is dealing with it in the wake of the pandemic.
Associate Professor Dr Ian Mackay of the University of Queensland, Australia told Medical News Today: “Some of what we may feel are ‘super colds’ might just be normal colds that we’ve simply forgotten to recognise because Australia had successfully kept them at bay during the pandemic.”
It’s also much easier to catch a cold during the winter – thanks to changes in the outer membrane of virus particles, as per Snopes.
The cold makes the membrane more solid and rubbery and scientists believe that this makes person-to-person transmission a lot easier.
Air that is dry and cold has also been linked to flu outbreaks and a National Institutes of Health study suggests that dry winter air helps the virus to remain infectious longer.
A lack of sunshine in winter months can also lower vitamin D levels which negatively affects the immune system, too.
In addition, people also tend to spend more time indoors – which generally leads to more close contact with others, which can help illnesses spread.