Brits are warning the “worst cold ever” is sweeping across the UK with many being left “floored” by the illness.

Reports of a nasty illness starting in the south has now spread north with people saying it is taking days and in some cases weeks to recover.

Dr Philippa Kaye, a London GP confirmed numbers of infectious diseases are much higher than is normal at this time of year.

She told the BBC: "We've actually been seeing a rise in the number of coughs and colds and viral infections.

"We are mixing in a way that we haven't been mixing over the past 18 months.

"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."

Rebecca London, from Bournemouth, told Radio 1's Newsbeat: "Nothing I have had has been like this.

"I barely slept, I'd wake up in the night just coughing, a constantly runny nose and feeling so tired."

According to health professionals, the illness feels so bad because we have spent so much time social distancing throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

As the world is opening back up and people begin to mix once more, the usual colds and flus are taking advantage of our weakened immune systems.

Is it a cold or Covid?

If you have any symptoms of the usual cold or flu, it is worth remembering tat these can also be a sign of coronavirus infection.

If you have a continuous cough or a fever you should get a PCR test.  

ZOE, the world's largest ongoing study into the virus, 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."

How to treat the illness

NHS guidance says you should treat a cold 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)

The NHS say you should see your GP if any of the following apply to you:

  • 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
  • you have a weakened immune system