Summer Cold: Symptoms, allergies, and remedies
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Although some people insist that summer colds are always worse or longer lived than winter colds, there is little clinical evidence to support this claim. Most summer colds, like winter colds, go away within a few days and do not require medical treatment.
What is a summer cold?
A summer cold is simply a common cold you catch during summertime. Some people may think you can only catch a cold during winter. Others might also mistake a summer cold for other issues, such as allergies. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be cold outside to catch a cold.
If you catch a cold in summer, it will be exactly like catching a cold in the winter. Even if it’s hot outside, the rhinovirus that causes common colds can spread and infect people just as easily.
Summer cold vs. allergies
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a cold and allergies, particularly when symptoms strike at the start of allergy season.
Some important distinctions include:
- Fever: Allergies to airborne substances, such as dust and pollen, do not cause a fever.
- Timing of illness: Allergies typically appear as soon as a person comes into contact with an allergen. For example, a person may feel ill as soon as pollen season begins.
- Length of illness: Colds, even bad ones, typically last fewer than 10 days, whereas allergies can last many weeks.
- Symptom pattern: People with allergies may notice that their symptoms get better indoors, or when they use air conditioning or air filters.
- Exhaustion: Colds commonly cause exhaustion and fatigue, whereas allergies rarely do.
- Muscle aches: Allergies can cause headaches and face pain, but they do not cause widespread muscle pain.
- Response to medication: Antihistamines help with many allergies but do not typically help with cold symptoms
What are the best remedies?
Of course, many classic winter cold treatments apply to summer colds as well. To treat a summer cold:
- Rest up. Make sure to get plenty of rest and sleep. Avoid excessive activity and stress that could challenge the immune system. Even though summer is full of tempting outdoor activities, you may have to stay inside and rest for long periods.
- Stay nourished and hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid beverages that could dehydrate, like alcohol, coffee, or energy drinks. Hot beverages like tea could be soothing and helpful to symptoms. Make sure your intake of vitamins and minerals is strong, especially of immune-boosting nutrients like iron, vitamin C, and zinc.
- Herbal remedies. Herbs cannot kill or fight a cold. Still, studies show that some can support the immune system, helping it better fight colds. Popular herbs for fighting rhinovirus are echinacea, licorice root, elderberry, and garlic.
- Humidifiers and steams. Humidifiers cannot directly get rid of a cold. But they can help relieve symptoms, especially runny nose, congestion, sore throat, and coughing.
How long will it last?
A cold in the summer will last about as long as any cold in winter. On average, a cold lasts about 10 days total, with symptoms drastically improving around day seven.
Children tend to resolve colds much quicker than adults, usually in less than a week. Some adults, on the other hand, may deal with colds for up to about two weeks. This depends on age, health, genetics, and other factors.
The more you take care of yourself and use cold care remedies, the quicker your cold will be likely to clear up. Go see your doctor if your cold lasts longer than two weeks.
How can you prevent summer colds?
There’s no way to completely prevent yourself from getting a cold, whether in summer or winter. But there are ways you can reduce your chance of getting one.
- Take care of your immune system. There are many ways to do this: eating nutritious foods, avoiding too much stress, and even taking supplements that contain immune-boosting natural remedies.
- Get plenty of sleep. Getting adequate sleep is essential to resetting the immune system each day so that it functions properly.
- Wash your hands. Make sure to wash your hands, especially in restrooms of public spaces and areas where pathogens can be prevalent.
- Avoid those who have a cold. If you know someone has a cold, avoid interacting with them. If you get close to or touch them, make sure to wash up quickly afterward.