The big smoke is one of the most visited cities on the planet. London has a population of millions with millions more flocking to the capital every year to check out the architecture, culture, and see the sights. Understandably, when you factor in how many people are living within close proximity, there are all kinds of nasty bugs and viral infections that can quickly spread.
Here we will take a look at some of the most common viral infections affecting Londoners this year, as well as strategies on how to cope and seek treatment.
Influenza (the Flu)
Influenza (the flu) is an infection of the nose, lungs, and throat. These are part of the respiratory system. Flu is a common viral infection that can spread easily from person to person. Symptoms of the flu are similar to a bad cold. These include an aching body, headache, tiredness, and a high temperature. If you have the flu, symptoms will usually get better in roughly 7 days. However, you must drink plenty of fluids, stay warm and give yourself plenty of time to rest. There is the option to take painkillers too.
It’s important to note that antibiotics do not help with the flu. To avoid getting the flu in the first place, make sure to get your flu vaccine annually. Flu is spread by germs from coughs, and you are more likely to give it to others in the first few days. For that reason, it’s wise to stay at home until symptoms get better. If your symptoms persist for more than a week, make sure to book an appointment with your GP.
COVID-19 is another common viral infection that is caused by the virus known as coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to the typical cold and flu. These include a high temperature, persistent cough, as well as a change or loss of your taste or smell. To help stop the spread of COVID-19, it is strongly recommended to get vaccinated. Also, take care when engaging with others. You may need to take time off work to recover.
To ease COVID-19 symptoms, make sure to have plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take painkillers like paracetamol. Those at a heightened risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19 may be given treatments like antibiotics or antiviral medicines. As we know, COVID-19 can be fatal for the vulnerable, so don’t delay in seeking treatment if symptoms worsen.
Chickenpox is a very contagious viral infection that can cause a spotty, itchy rash. While chickenpox is more common in children, adults can get it too. Common chickenpox symptoms include itchy spots that turn into blisters before scabbing. These can be anywhere on the body, such as in the mouth. Normally chickenpox symptoms get better on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. There are ways you can ease chickenpox symptoms. This includes using cooling creams and taking paracetamol and antihistamines.
You can catch chickenpox simply by being in the same room as another person who has it. Chickenpox can also be spread by touching things that have fluid from blisters on them. After you have recovered from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in your body. Over time, the virus can be reactive and cause shingles. You can check out Patient who have an in-depth guide on shingles. They go into detail about this infection and the common symptoms to look out for.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common group of viruses. Some types of HPV can cause genital warts or cancer. Normally, HPV presents no symptoms. This means you may not even know you have got it. However, some individuals may get genital warts. Usually, HPV goes away on its own without the need for treatment. Although, you should seek medical advice if you experience symptoms such as genital warts.
HPV can be contracted from vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You can also get HPV from sharing sex toys. There are certain things you can do to lower your risk of getting HPV. This includes using condoms during sex. There is the option to get vaccinated for some types of this virus too. If you have any doubts, visit your local sexual health clinic in the capital where you can get tested for HPV.
Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)
Gastroenteritis (stomach flu) is a very common viral infection. Common symptoms of gastroenteritis include vomiting and diarrhoea. It is normally caused by a viral or bacterial tummy bug. Gastroenteritis can affect people of any age. However, it’s more common in young children. Most cases of gastroenteritis in individuals under 18 are caused by the virus known as rotavirus.
In general, gastroenteritis usually lasts for a day or two. On occasion, symptoms can last for up to 2 weeks. Other common symptoms of gastroenteritis include tummy pain, rumbling noises from your tummy, and a high temperature. If you have lost your appetite or feel generally unwell, it’s time to see your GP. Should you notice blood in your poo, you must seek medical advice. This is because there could be a more serious underlying cause, like bowel cancer. If symptoms last for a long time, there could be another cause like inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
Bronchitis is a viral infection of the main airways of the lungs. This causes the lungs to become inflamed and irritated. The prominent symptom of bronchitis is a cough that can bring up yellow-grey mucus. You may also get a sore throat if you have bronchitis. Other bronchitis symptoms include feeling tired, headaches, and mild body aches. Because many of these symptoms are similar to other viral infections, only a GP will be able to correctly diagnose you.
In most instances, bronchitis is caused by the same viruses which cause the common cold or flu. For most people with bronchitis, symptoms should clear up within a couple of weeks without needing treatment. During this time, make sure to drink lots of fluids and give yourself chance to rest. In some cases, bronchitis symptoms can hang around much longer. If your symptoms don’t go away after 3 months, this is known as chronic bronchitis.
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes. These surround the spinal cord and brain. While anyone can get meningitis, it’s more common in babies and young children than adults. It’s important to seek treatment immediately as meningitis can be very serious.
Symptoms of meningitis to look out for include a high temperature, headache, a rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it, and drowsiness. Meningitis is normally caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Individuals with suspected meningitis will need to have tests in hospital to confirm the diagnosis.
While many of the viral infections above can be contagious, it’s important to note that some are not always spread from person to person. Having a better understanding of viral infections can be a huge help should you experience symptoms.
Make sure to see your GP for advice and treatment if you get any of the viral infections above. Don’t hesitate in seeking medical help. The sooner you do, the quicker you will be on the road to full recovery.