East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Public Health Director said coronavirus lockdowns which saw people stay inside longer, get less exercise and mix less had weakened immune systems’ ability to fight colds.
But Andy Kingdom added around a year and a half of public health campaigns and fewer people getting colds in that time meant people were more aware of colds as they return.
It comes as rising numbers of people have been reporting worse than normal ‘super colds’ in recent weeks.
East Yorkshire social media users said it felt “shocking”, leaving them struggling to breathe properly, lacking energy and bed bound for weeks.
Mr Kingdom said flu, norovirus and other seasonal illnesses were also spreading earlier than usual this year.
He said: “Our previous behaviour during the lockdowns also helped to stop other respiratory diseases spreading.
“But as people’s behaviour has moved away from mask wearing and social distancing they’ve become more susceptible to those illnesses.
“It’s important for people to spot the difference between catching a cold and having the flu.
“When you have a cold you feel unwell but you can generally carry on as normal, but the flu will feel much worse, you won’t be able to.
“And of course if your symptoms feel more like those of coronavirus then please get tested and isolate if the result is positive.
“I think people are more aware of illnesses when they get them now after going through the pandemic, they’ve become more sensitised to watching out for certain symptoms or feeling unwell generally.
“People usually catch a cold two or three times a year, but if they haven’t had one in a year or more when they get it now it may feel a lot worse because they’re not used to it.”