1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Why Do I Have a Summer Cold?

By

Updated April 17, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Why Do I Have a Summer Cold?
If cold and flu season occurs during the fall and winter, then why do people still get summer colds? Although they aren't as common during the summer, colds really aren't that rare any time of year.
Answer:

Summer colds are surprisingly common, although they occur less frequently than in the fall and winter.

Cause

Colds are caused by viruses, not the weather, so they can occur at any time of the year. They are more common during the colder months because the virus is able to spread more easily in cold, dry air. People also tend to stay indoors more during the winter months, which means they may have more exposure to other people and their germs. But that doesn't mean they don't occur during the warmer months. The viruses that cause colds are always around.

Symptoms

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

  • Runny nose and/or congestion
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes, nose or throat

If your symptoms are much different from these, you may not have a cold. You could have a different type of viral infection or even seasonal allergies.

Treatment

Treating a summer cold is (unfortunately) not any easier than treating a cold any other time of the year. There is no cure for the cold, but there are an abundance of over-the-counter medications to help make your symptoms more bearable. There are plenty of non-medication remedies you can try as well.

Of course, figuring out which one is right for you is the tricky part. If you choose to take medications, 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.

If you would prefer not to take medications, there are still options to help relieve your symptoms. Humidifiers, saline spray and neti pots are just a few things you can try to help yourself feel better.

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.

Wash Your Hands
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! Most people don't realize how important this step is.

Use Hand Sanitizer
When you don't have access to soap and water, using hand sanitizer is a great alternative.

Do Multivitamins Help?
Multivitamins are often marketed as a necessity for everyone and a great option to help you stay healthy. However, depending on your health and diet, this may or may not be true. See if multivitamins are right for you.

Staying Healthy at Work
Many of us pick up germs at the office from our coworkers when they come to work sick. While the best way to avoid those germs would be for those sick coworkers to stay home, that probably isn't going to happen. See what else you can do to minimize your chances of catching the office illness.

Sources:

"Common Cold and Runny Nose." Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work 30 Jun 09. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 16 Apr 12.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Cold & Flu
  4. Common Cold
  5. FAQ About the Cold
  6. All About Summer Colds

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.