The key, said Professor Kinane, is all in the throat. Both COVID-19 and the common cold cause a sore throat. However, both cause people to experience a sore throat in a different way.
He said: “As most people know by now, a sore throat from COVID is more or less similar to any other throat infection. But, when you get COVID, you can also experience pain and scratchiness, especially while swallowing something.
“In many cases, patients additionally feel dryness and irritation which could be an outcome of inflammation in the back of your throat, which can be very discomforting.”
Yet, there is more to a Covid sore throat than just scratchiness. Professor Kinane also provided Express.co.uk with tips on the signs of a Covid sore throat.
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He said the characteristics of Covid sore throat are as follows:
• Covid sore throat usually appears in the first week of illness and can improve quite quickly
• Contrastingly to other sore throats, when it is caused by Covid, it feels worse on the first day of infection but gets better on each following day
• A sore throat lasts no more than five days, and it is usually mild
• Anyone who suffers from sore throat for over five days should get themselves tested for some other illness.”
While sore throats can be painful, they could be a sign of another illness. However, at the moment they are more likely to be a sign of a cold.
Although many see the sixth wave of COVID-19 as underway, the statistics suggest that colds are up to three times more likely than Covid at this stage.
According to Professor Kinane: “Latest data from the King’s College ZOE symptom tracker study suggests around 0.3 percent of people in Britain are currently fighting off colds, compared to about 0.1 per cent for COVID. This is a far lower figure than for the past two years.”
What is the best way to treat non-Covid sore throat?
Professor Kinane said to help soothe a sore throat and shorten how long it lasts, you are advised to do the following:
• Gargle with warm, salty water (children should not try this)
• Drink plenty of water
• Eat cool or soft foods
• Digest honey
• Avoid smoking or smoky places
• Suck ice cubes, ice lollies or hard sweets – but do not give young children anything small and hard to suck because of the risk of choking
Kinane added: “You can ask a pharmacist about ways of relieving the pain and discomfort of a sore throat.”
Colds may be more likely than COVID-19 at this stage, but it is key to remain aware of the symptoms of a virus which has wrought devastation on the UK.
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Symptoms of COVID-19 in adults to look out for include:
• High temperature or shivering
• A new, continuous cough
• A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
• Shortness of breath
• Feeling tired or exhausted
• An aching body
• A headache
• A sore throat
• A blocked or runny nose
• Loss of appetite
• Feeling sick or being sick.
The NHS advises: “If you have any of these symptoms and you have a high temperature, or you do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
“You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature.”
As with coughs and colds, the key to recovery is rest and taking sensible action to limit stress.
The news of this comes as the UK is set to be hit by a ‘twindemic’, a viral event when two waves of two separate viruses hit at the same time.
In the case of this winter, those viruses are COVID-19 and flu. Although this makes for unnerving reading there is hope that this sixth wave of COVID-19 will not be as prolonged as the annual flu season.
Professor Karl Friston has predicted that the sixth wave of Covid will peak before December, and thus allow the UK to have its first Covid-free Christmas since 2019.
Friston predicts the next wave would arrive in around March as spring arrives and temperatures begin to warm.