Doctors answer common health queries

What are the most googled health queries this month? Queries about the flu and Covid were front of mind, reveals Prudence Wade.
Doctors answer common health queries

What were the most googled health queries?

FOR many of us, January is a month of health - maybe you’re ditching booze, doing Veganuary, or heading to the gym a bit more.

It’s also still winter, with flu season raging on and worries about catching the dreaded lurgy at an all-time high - and these concerns are reflected in the health questions we’ve been Googling in January so far.

These are the top health-related questions we’ve been searching for this year, answered by doctors...

1. How long does Covid last? 

We wouldn’t be surprised if this was the top health question for the previous two years too - and Dr Brian Fisher, clinical director at wellness app Evergreen Life (, says: “In most cases, Covid infections usually last around one to two weeks, depending on the severity. For cases on the higher end of this severity, you’re looking at around a month or longer for recovery.”

There are also cases of long Covid - where symptoms lasts longer than 12 weeks, affecting an estimated 3-12% of people with Covid.

“In that case, it’s very difficult to say how long the symptoms can last, even after all tests give you the all clear,” Fisher explains. 

“These symptoms can range from constant fatigue and nausea to damage to your heart and lungs, so if you feel like your Covid is lasting, see your doctor as soon as you can.”

Symptoms of tonsillitis include a high temperature.
Symptoms of tonsillitis include a high temperature.

2. Is tonsillitis contagious? 

Dr Jay Verma, a GP and co-founder of Data Care Solutions (, explains: “Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils, found at the back of the throat. It can be caused by a viral or a bacterial infection. It itself is not contagious: what is contagious is the organism causing the inflammation. Symptoms are a sore throat or pain when swallowing, a high temperature, coughing, a headache and fatigue.”

If your symptoms are severe and do not go away after four days, Verma advises calling your GP.

“If you or a family member have symptoms, stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better,” he adds. 

“Viruses and bacteria are spread in a variety of ways, such as airborne droplets from coughs and sneezes, it is easier to avoid catching something if the person takes these steps.”

3. How many calories should I eat a day? 

This doesn’t have a clear-cut answer, as Dr Kathryn Basford, ASDA Online Doctor (, says: “The suggested daily calorie intake differs from person to person based on several factors: age, lifestyle, height and weight, and sometimes medications and health conditions can cause you to burn energy more or less quickly. In general, the recommended number of calories to consume for women is 2,000, 2,500 for men. This is a generalisation though, if you’re not sure, your GP will always be able to advise.” 

Plus, the kind of calories you consume matters.

4. How long does flu last? 

“Flu usually only takes a week or soto pass, with some symptoms lingering for another week or two in particularly harsh cases,” suggests Fisher. 

“While most people won’t feel long-lasting effects, if your symptoms aren’t improving or getting worse, it’s important to contact your doctor. Remember it is not unusual for coughs to continue for some weeks.”

If you want to alleviate symptoms, Fisher recommends: “Resting, taking medicines to reduce temperature and staying hydrated. Staying warm can also help, as viruses thrive in colder temperatures. Brothy soups, especially with a low salt content, can help as well. 

“If you have a particularly bad cough, a teaspoon of honey or tea with honey in it can help to reduce the symptoms (however, this is something you shouldn’t give to children under 12 months old).”

Strep A has been much in the news this winter.
Strep A has been much in the news this winter.

5. What is Strep A? 

It’s unsurprising this question made the top five, as Strep A has been in the news this winter.

“Group A streptococcus is a bacteria that can cause a number of mild infections, most commonly sore throat and skin infections like impetigo,” explains Basford. “It can also cause scarlet fever, which gives a sore throat, high temperature, and distinctive sandpaper-like skin rash. 

"Rarely it can lead to more severe infections, called invasive group A strep, where the infection can get into the blood or the lungs.”

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