From 'white pneumonia' to bronchitis – the 5 times your 'common cold' is much more serious | The Sun

WE all know the symptoms of a cold – runny nose, congestion sneezing and a cough.

But how do you know it's just a run-of-the-mill illness and not something more serious?

On average, children have four to six colds per year, while in adults the average is two to three.

“Cold symptoms tend to be mild and come on gradually," Boots superintendent pharmacist Claire Nevinson said.

It tends to affect the upper respiratory tract, including your throat and nose.

People usually start to feel better within a week or two, the NHS says.

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If symptoms last over three weeks, you may have something more worrisome, like flu.

1. Flu

Flu symptoms typically hit your whole body all of a sudden.

"They'll probably be more severe and last longer than a cold," Claire added.

With the flu, you're more likely to suffer from a sudden fever, muscle aches and pains, sweating, feeling exhausted and a dry and chesty cough.

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Flu can also affect your digestive system and can make you feel sick, be sick, lose your appetite or have diarrhoea, the NHS says.

“In most flu cases, there should be no need to visit your GP," the pharmacist explained.

But children and adults at high risk may develop complications that may include pneumonia, which can be deadly.

2. Covid

Covid symptoms have recently changed; the viral disease now closely resembles a cold more than the flu, experts have said.

There has also been a surge in cases with experts warning the current strain is particularly 'deviant'.

The illness' past telltale signs, like the loss of sense of taste or smell, a hacking cough, and shortness of breath have become less common.

Since Omicron became dominant in 2021, medics have found the bug affects the upper respiratory tract, including the nose and voice box.

Dr Erick Eiting from Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York, US, previously said: "It’s a lot of congestion, sometimes sneezing, usually a mild sore throat."

The sore throat emerges first, followed by a stuffy nose, he explained.

Past telltale signs have become less common, like the loss of sense of taste or smell, a hacking cough, and shortness of breath.

Along with congestion, doctors said, some patients experience a headache, fatigue, muscle aches, fever, chills or post-nasal drip that may lead to a cough.

Most people feel better within a few days or weeks of their first Covid-19 symptoms and fully recover within 12 weeks, the NHS says.

However, if you're worried about your or a child's Covid-19 symptoms or are unsure what to do, call NHS 111 of your local GP.

3. Sinus infection

Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, is a swelling of the sinuses usually caused by a cold of the flu.

Your sinuses are the spaces in your forehead, cheeks and nose that are usually filled with air.

According to the NHS, it causes facial pain, which is different from both a cold and the flu, but other symptoms can overlap, like a runny nose or a fever.

It's common and usually clears up on its own within two to three weeks.

However, recurrent or persistent sinusitis, which lasts after three months, may require surgery to remove blocked tissue.

4. Bronchitis 

Bronchitis, like many viral bugs, begins wth a cough, general tiredness and a low-grade fever.

A cold can potentially turn into bronchitis, sometimes known as a chest cold.

According to the NHS, it happens when a respiratory illness in the upper respiratory tract, like a cold, travels lower respiratory infection, specifically the bronchial tubes – the airways that carry air to your lungs.

A cold is felt in the nose, whereas bronchitis is in the lungs.

Other bronchitis symptoms not seen in the common cold include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing and chest congestion.

Bronchitis usually clears up without treatment in around three weeks. See a GP if your symptoms last longer than this.

Call 999 if you or someone else is struggling to breathe, choking, gasping and unable to speak, confused or there is skin discoloration (blue).

5. White lung pneumonia

Pneumonia has been rising globally in recent months.

It's sometimes dubbed 'white lung pneumonia' because of the white areas on the lungs that appear during chest X-ray scans.

Pneumonia is another infection in your lungs, but instead of the bronchial tubes, you get it in tiny air sacs called alveoli.

Bronchitis can potentially turn into pneumonia.

It's generally more serious than bronchitis, as it usually looks more like a body-wide infection with a fever, chills and sickness, the NHS says.

Like bronchitis, it also causes chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing and congestion.

Most people get better in two to four weeks.

Babies, older people, and people with heart or lung conditions are at risk of getting seriously ill and may need treatment in hospital.


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