‘Super Cold’ and Flu With COVID Symptoms

covid cold flu symptomsIf you’re suffering from COVID symptoms yet experiencing negative lateral flow tests you’re not alone. 

Many people are reporting symptoms including a painful sore throat, headaches, runny nose and tiredness. The immediate assumption is that it’s coronavirus, but test results repeatedly come back as negative.

There are a few possible reasons for this and the most likely is that you don’t have COVID at all, but a ‘Super Cold’ or flu with severe symptoms that are the same as those for the coronavirus itself.

Super Cold

Over the last couple of years we’ve become very vigilant in looking out for symptoms of COVID but there are other illnesses which cause similar symptoms – like the humble cold.

For many, it’s the first cold they’ve had in over 2 years. As we haven’t been mixing our immune systems don’t have the same level of protection and therefore the illness can be longer and more troublesome than we’d expect from a cold.


Doctors say that the flu season is later this year than normal and cases are currently on the rise with hospital admissions going up as well as reported cases.

More people were eligible for the flu jab this year than previously, which has helped to reduce the amount of flu in society, but it is making its presence known again now that we’re able to mix again. As with the cold, our normal levels of immunity are lacking after 2 years of reduced mixing.


If you have coronavirus symptoms but lateral flow tests are negative, then it is worth getting a PCR test to be sure.

If you have loss of taste and smell, that is an indicator of Covid-only symptoms and it’s best to have a coronavirus test again. Fever and new/continuous cough are also covid symptoms, but could also apply to flu or colds.

ZOE, the world’s largest ongoing study into the virus, has said that many of the symptoms of Covid-19 are now the same as a regular cold, especially for people who have received two or more doses of the vaccine. ZOE says:

“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.”

However, bear in mind that the PCR test will show a positive for up to 90 days after the coronavirus infection, so if you had COVID in the last 3 months, you can expect a positive result based on that. It may be that you don’t have COVID again, but just a cold or flu which gives the same symptoms.

How to tell the difference and what to do?

It can be confusing as the symptoms are all very similar. Unless you’re clinically vulnerable, the advice is not to panic but to take it easy. The first line of advice is to take it easy and while your body recovers. Drink plenty of fluids and use over the counter cough/cold/flu remedies to ease the symptoms.

If you’re worried, then contact a doctor for advice.

Those in The Smart Clinics’ medical membership scheme have ready access to our private GPs. If you’re concerned about any aspect of your health or symptoms, then we can arrange a telephone or video call with a doctor. It will put your mind at ease and give you practical advice on what you can do to help recover.

The importance of vaccination

The best prevention against coronavirus is to take advantage of any immunisations offered, including all booster shots. This will not eliminate the risks, but it can be expected to reduce the likelihood of illness and severity of illness.

The Smart Clinics

The Smart Clinics is best known for its unique membership based private GP service with access to a friendly team of experienced doctors, which entitles individuals, families and corporate members to unlimited GP access for a monthly fee. Private dentistry is also available as an optional extra and available in their Chelsea clinic.

The Smart Clinics brings together a host of medical professionals offering patients high quality health services in a choice of accessible London clinic locations:

For more information contact us on info@thesmartclinics.co.uk or call  020 7052 0070.

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