UK flu hotspots: North West, Essex and South Lanarkshire are most contagious locations

As temperatures drop and winter makes its way across the UK, more and more of us are contracting winter bugs.

These are the places in the UK where you’re most likely to catch influenza - and how to spot the symptoms.

Flu hot spots

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Using data from Flu Survey, the hot spots across the UK for the illness can be revealed.

Make sure you don't catch the flu this Christmas (Photo: Shutterstock)

The high risk areas according to Flu Survey are:

- North West of England

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- Essex, England

- South Lanarkshire, Scotland

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Flu Survey relies on people self-reporting their symptoms, so the true figure of each area is likely to be a lot higher.

Flu Survey is a website designed to monitor trends of flu illnesses in the community. You can help to keep Flu Survey accurate by signing up to the website and reporting any flu like symptoms.

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The difference between the flu and a cold

While the common cold and the flu share many of the same symptoms, people can have difficulty identifying which illness they’ve caught.

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These are the main differences between the cold and the flu:

- Cold symptoms develop gradually whereas flu symptoms present abruptly

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- You’re unlikely to get a fever with the cold, but for the flu, that’s standard

- You might feel a little achy with the cold, but you’ll likely feel very achy with the flu

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- Chills are also uncommon with the cold, but usual for the flu

- You’re more likely to suffer from sneezing, a stuffy nose and sore throat with the cold rather than the flu

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- Chest discomfort and headaches are more common with the flu than the cold

What to do if you catch the flu

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You can usually treat your flu symptoms without having to visit your GP, and the NHS says that you should start to feel better in about a week.

In the meantime, the NHS recommends you do the following to get better faster:

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- Rest and sleep

- Keep warm

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- Take painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen to lower your temperature and treat aches and pains

- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

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To avoid spreading the flu to others, you should:

- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water

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- Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze

- Bin used tissues immediately