Summer colds aren’t worse than winter ones. Here’s why they feel like it
The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you’re stuck inside sneezing and coughing. It’s the middle of summer and you’ve been hit with a cold.
But what exactly is the dreaded summer cold and is it worse than a winter sickness?
READ MORE: The dreaded summer cold explained
“You can’t let your guard down in the summer as infections are still around,” Dr. Doug Sider, public health physician with Public Health Ontario said. “Respiratory sicknesses happen all year long.”
There are a dozen types of virus out there, and only a couple pop up in the summer, he said. The two main viruses are the enterovirus infection and parainfluenza (which is more common in children).
The main winter virus is usually linked to influenza A (H1N1) and influenza B, which happens from October-May.
Is it worse than a winter cold?
“In general the virus in summer are not as associated with the severity of the influenza virus,” Sider said.
That’s not to say the enterovirus infection isn’t dangerous, he added. Children and seniors are still at work and there can be severe health consequences.
READ MORE: Signs you’re too sick and should stay home
Some health officials believe the summer cold isn’t worse — it has to do more with more psychological reasons.
A recent study published in the journal Health Psychology found that feeling lonely can make a person’s cold symptoms feel worse.
“There’s a lot of work showing that when people are lonely and experiencing any physical stressor—whether it’s pain or illness—they perceive that stress as being of higher intensity,” Chris Fagundes, the study’s co-author told Time Magazine.
“Our finding was that lonelier people feel worse when they are sick than less lonely people.”
The sickness may cause people to feel isolated, especially when you’re stuck in bed and all your friends are out having fun in the sun, he said.
“That could heighten perceptions of loneliness and perception of cold symptom severity,” Fagundes added.
Could be allergies
People also sometimes confuse summer allergies with colds.
Allergies will give you a stuffy and runny nose and runny eyes, but the symptoms typically last all season, whereas most colds resolve in seven to 10 days. So if you do have symptoms for most of the summer, it’s probably not a summer cold – but more likely allergies.
WATCH: Why your allergy symptoms feel so severe this year
“It’s like having a bad cold that’s persistent. You don’t have a fever and aches but you feel congested and sneezy. It interferes with your sleep, concentration and performance, so in many ways, it affects your quality of life,” Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist and McMaster University professor said.
Unfortunately, like winter colds, there really aren’t any vaccines or medications that cure these colds, Sider said. The key is to rest, drink plenty of liquids are try to stay at home.
At the end of the day, the best treatment is prevention. And whether it’s summer or winter, wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer to avoid catching the infection, he said.
WATCH: Home remedies to cure a common cold
— With files from Global News’ Carmen Chai
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