Summer Cold Causes and Symptoms

Woman about to sneeze and holding a tissue outdoors in the sunshine

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Cold season is at its peak during the fall and winter, but people can get colds at any time of the year. This is because colds are caused by viruses and not cold weather.

There are many different viruses that cause colds. In the winter months, colds are typically caused by the rhinovirus, while summer colds are often due to non-polio enterovirus. The viruses cause similar symptoms but tend to circulate in different seasons.

In general, viruses spread more easily in cold, dry air. In the winter, people also tend to stay indoors more, which results in close contact with other people making it easier for germs to pass from person to person.

Symptoms

Summer cold symptoms aren't any different than cold symptoms at any other time of the year. The most common include:

  • Runny nose 
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough

If your symptoms are much different from these, you probably have a different illness. You could have a different type of viral infection or even seasonal allergies.

Allergies or Cold?

A summer cold is easily confused with seasonal allergies as the primary symptoms of congestion, runny nose, and sneezing are the same. There are a few telltale differences between them:

Cold

  • Aches and pains

  • Fever

Allergies

  • Itchy, watery eyes

  • Itchy skin or rash

Summer allergies, commonly known as hay fever, are typically caused by weeds, such as goldenrod, sagebrush, and tumbleweed. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, less than 8% of adults and children are diagnosed with hay fever, however, many people with seasonal allergies may go undiagnosed.

Treatment

The treatment for a summer cold is the same as a cold any other time of year. While there is no cure for the common cold, getting plenty of rest and keeping hydrated can help you feel better sooner. Humidifiers, saline nasal spray, and neti pots can provide effective, natural relief.

Over-the-counter medications can also help to relieve symptoms, including antihistamines, decongestants, cough suppressants, and fever reducers. Identify the symptoms that are bothering you and find a medication that treats those—and only those—symptoms. You don't want medications that treat symptoms you don't have.

Prevention

Preventing colds is always the preferred option. Although it's not always possible, there are steps you can take to maximize your potential for avoiding the common cold, no matter what season it is.

Washing your hands is the most effective step you can take to avoid getting sick with any common illness. Wash thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Then make sure you dry them. When you don't have access to soap and water, using hand sanitizer is a great alternative.

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Article Sources

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