Sputum in your cough is considered a top Covid symptom
Coronavirus: Key symptoms of the new Centaurus variant
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Just like many other viruses, Covid has been mutating since the beginning of the pandemic. This as well as the vaccine roll-out has redefined the common symptoms the virus causes. While many are aware of the key traditional signs like cough and loss of smell, some of these signs were more common in the early stages of the pandemic. One lesser-known symptom that could ring alarm bells strikes in your cough.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than 1.4 million people in the UK were infected with Covid in the week ending on December 9, warning that around one in 45 was ill with the virus.
Omicron BA.5 still seems to be the most prevalent variant that is driving up the cases in the UK.
With BA.5 taking the control, Covid symptoms still include the usual suspects like sore throat, runny nose and headache.
However, the latest reports from The Zoe Covid Study App, which keeps track of key Covid symptoms through patient reports, have added sputum in cough to their list of “top” signs to watch.
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Sputum, or phlegm, describes the thick mucus secreted in your respiratory passages and discharged through your mouth.
While dry cough is one of the most common Covid signs, some patients can also spot mucus in their cough.
Based on Zoe’s data, around 45 percent of users have previously reported this red flag sign.
Although cough with sputum could break the news of a Covid infection, the study app also warns that phlegm could point to other problems.
It states: “If you have COVID-19 and start coughing up yellow or green phlegm (‘gunk’) then this may be a sign of an additional bacterial infection in the lungs that needs treatment.”
How to improve cough with phlegm
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to manage this pesky sign, ranging from hydration to breathing techniques.
The NHS advises the following for managing cough with sputum:
- Stay hydrated
- Inhale steam
- Try lying on either side as flat as you can to help drain the phlegm
- Try moving around to help to move the phlegm
- Try breathing control techniques if you move to an area with a different temperature
- Try to breathe in through your nose – breathing in through your mouth can make you cough more.
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Other common symptoms
Apart from sputum in your cough, Zoe also reports other key symptoms that could help identify the virus.
Their latest reports suggest there are 10 “top” symptoms to be aware of, including:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Blocked nose
- Cough without phlegm
- Cough with phlegm
- Hoarse voice
- Muscle aches and pains
- Altered sense of smell.
“The order of these symptoms is based on contributor reports in the app and doesn’t take into account which variant caused the infection or any demographic information,” the health study adds.
Cases are on rise again
This comes as the number of people with coronavirus in the UK continues to rise, according to the latest weekly figures from the ONS.
Covid infections increased in England and Scotland while the trend was uncertain in Wales and Northern Ireland.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) stressed the importance of vaccination and urged people who felt unwell not to socialise during the festive season.
“Both Covid and flu can cause severe illness or even death for those most vulnerable in our communities, and so it is also important to avoid contact with other people if you are unwell in order to help stop infections spreading over the Christmas and new year period,” said Doctor Mary Ramsay, Director of Public Health Programmes at the UKHSA.
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