The month of August brought with it a nasty surprise: a nasty cold. I’m on day six of this dastardly bug and miserable as I’m barely functioning and unable to enjoy the lovely weather. But more than that, I’m pissed! “Who gets a cold in the summer?” I wanted to know. Well it turns out I do…and millions of others too. And summer colds aren’t like winter ones, which is important to know, although they do require the same prevention.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 10 to 15 million people in the U.S. get sick with summer colds each year between June and October. To keep yourself out of that group, read on…
So, what’s the difference?
According to Medical News Today, summer colds differ from winter colds because they tend to be cause by enteroviruses. Winter colds tend to be caused by rhinoviruses. That’s the biggest difference between the two.
For the most part, a summer cold is like a winter cold with a runny nose, sneezing, congestion, coughing, headaches, sinus pressure, sore throat, low energy and muscle aches. However, there is one major difference that I was relieved to learn about: Summer cold symptoms can include nausea and vomiting. I relieved because that part of this sickness surprised me. My stomach isn’t usually an issue when I have a cold! Enteroviruses can also cause fevers.
Other than that, the main difference is the inconvenience, if you want my opinion: For those who get stricken with summer colds, we are either prevented from having our summer fun or we’re having to muscle through and get summer tasks done regardless—like last night when I helped offload 70 bales of hay.
Prevention and treatment are the same
In addition to the similarities between the two kinds of colds, the prevention is the same: frequent hand washing. But we’re not thinking about that in the middle of summer! In the middle of winter, we’re mindful of cold and flu season and we pay attention. In the summer, not so much—if at all. (And I know how I got my cold: Using my handkerchief to wipe my goddaughter’s nose during church.)
The treatment is the same too: getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids, using decongestants and taking acetaminophen as needed. (Try getting plenty of rest in August when you have 22 acres, horses, chickens, pigs and a huge garden that needs daily care, argh!)
Are summer colds worse?
Rumor has it that summer colds last longer than winter ones, but experts say there’s no proof of that. I disagree, because a winter cold doesn’t prevent us from taking advantage of summer weather. A summer cold does. Therefore, a summer cold does last longer because the negative consequences are worse. So there.
Or maybe that’s just my pity party talking.
In any case, don’t be like me: Don’t assume that summer means you can let your guard down. Be vigilant against cold germs no matter the season—and stay healthy all year long.