Mind & Body
Dealing with Summer Common Colds
7/5/2017 9:52:02 AM

Runny nose, persistent cough, scratchy throat . . . is it possible you have a common cold in the heat of summer? While it is true that most colds occur in cooler months, they can indeed show their nasty selves in the summer, as well. And why is it that summer colds seem to be worse in severity than colds in the winter? Possibly it is because we aren’t expecting a cold in the summer. We’re caught off guard, especially when we’re busy enjoying our vacation and the summer sunshine. Who has time in the summer to stay home in bed?

Inconvenience aside, there are medical reasons why colds seem to be worse in the summer months. People can be infected with different viruses during the summer months than they are during the winter season. The "common cold” is actually an umbrella phrase including over 200 viruses, and each one has its season. Rhinoviruses are thought to be responsible for at least 50% of colds and are more common in winter. In the summer months, primary culprits include enteroviruses. Along with the usual coughing, stuffiness, and fever, enteroviruses can cause a host of other unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea, sore throat, rashes, and body aches. Enteroviruses can last longer than other viruses – meaning it might take you a little longer to feel back to normal. Other factors related to summer can make your cold worse or last longer. For example, because you’d rather be outdoors than in bed, you may not get enough rest to recovery quickly. 

How to Get Well Soon

Contrary to popular belief, research does not support the vitamin C remedy. Sweating it out with exercise is also not a good idea, and may actually prolong the illness. Antibiotics are always contraindicated with viruses. And zinc likely isn’t as effective against enteroviruses as it is for rhinoviruses. 

So what can you do to help get over a summer cold? Basically, wait it out. Most viruses simply must run their course. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. You can alleviate symptoms with over the counter pain relievers, cough drops and syrups, and nasal sprays. Warning: do not give children aspirin when they have a cold. The combination can cause Reye’s Syndrome, a rare but serious condition that causes confusion, swelling in the brain, and liver damage.

If you do have a cold, keep your distance from others to prevent them from getting sick.

Tips to Prevent Summer Colds

  • Avoid or decrease exposure to extreme air conditioning, which constricts the blood vessels in the nose and throat, making you more susceptible to viruses.
  • Stay away from people who you know have a cold.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially the nose, mouth, and eye areas, if you are around someone with a cold or have been touching surfaces in a public area.
  • Use disposable items if someone in your family is infected.
  • Disinfect door knobs, drawer pulls, keyboards, light switches, toys, phones, remote controls, countertops, and sinks.
  • Don’t share eating utensils or drinking glasses.
  • Give each person in the family their own bathroom hand towel or use paper towels.
  • Dispose of used tissues immediately.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Maintain an overall healthy lifestyle – eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend

Categories: Health

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