- The most common summer cold is caused by an enterovirus, which thrives in warm weather.
- Summer cold symptoms can include a runny nose, sneezing, and a fever.
- You can also still catch a winter cold — like the Respiratory syncytial virus — in the summer.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
When you get a cold in the summer, it can seem to drag on endlessly and feel worse than a winter cold – this is because summer colds may be caused by an entirely different type of virus.
Here’s what you need to know about summer colds and how you can treat them.
The most common summer cold
Enterovirus is contagious and can travel in the mucus, saliva, or stool of a sick person. If you have direct contact with an infected person or touch a contaminated surface like a doorknob, you can catch the virus.
Some of the most frequent symptoms of enterovirus include:
“People who catch this virus can sometimes be asymptomatic,” says Darria Long, MD, an ER physician at Northside Hospital in Tennessee.
But it’s also common to have a fever with no other symptoms. This is a key sign of an enterovirus infection because a lone fever is less common in winter colds, which are most commonly caused by rhinovirus infections.
Note: Summer colds tend to last around 10 days and will generally clear up on their own. This 10-day estimate can help distinguish summer colds from allergies, which tend to run for two or more months.
Winter colds that you can still get in the summer
And while enterovirus may be the most common summer virus, the viruses that cause winter colds do not completely disappear in the summer.
Here are common viruses that are still circulating in the summer months:
How to treat a summer cold
There are no medications, like vaccines, to cure a common cold and most cases will get better without needing to see a doctor.
“Just like with a winter cold, the main treatment for a summer cold is just treating your symptoms, while your own body’s immune system fights off the cold,” Long says.
In the meantime, there are steps you can take to help you deal with your symptoms and heal more quickly:
- For symptoms like congestion, cough, or runny nose, you can take over-the-counter decongestant medications like DayQuil or Mucinex, Long says.
- To boost your immune system, Long suggests eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and her go-to recommendation for colds is to drink a smoothie.
- Going for a short walk outside can also help your immune system, Long says. Vitamin D from the sun can help bolster the immune system in people who are vitamin D deficient. Exercise can also strengthen the immune system. For example, Harvard Medical School reports that for one study, men and women who walked for just 20 minutes a day at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than people who exercised once a week or less.
- Lastly, getting some rest is an important way to help your body cope with a summer cold. “It’s amazing what a solid night’s sleep can do to boost your immune system and kick that cold to the curb,” Long says.
Most summer colds are not serious enough to need medical treatment, and you can cope with symptoms at home while you wait for them to pass.
However, if you develop more serious symptoms like a skin rash or a high fever, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.