Summertime Sickness: Contracting a Cold When it’s Warm

Published: June 13th, 2012

Category: Student Health Care Center Blog

Summer is a time to relax and get away to have fun, but what if your fun was interrupted by a cold? You might be wondering how someone could have flu symptoms when it’s not even flu season or cold out! The fact is that your illness can come from over 200 different viruses that bring those first symptoms of a cold (sneezing, scratchy throat, and runny nose). The colds that we experience in the winter are caused by different viruses than the ones experienced in the warmer months of summer.

Whether your summer consists of a relaxing vacation or taking summer classes you will want to prevent falling ill either way. As we are college students we tend to stay out late and get by on minimal amounts of sleep. These can contribute to getting sick because they weaken your immune system. We are also constantly around many other students throughout the day. So prevent getting sick by getting a good amount of sleep, and by frequently washing your hands as you can pick up the virus from contaminated surfaces.

What are summer colds caused by?

Summer colds are mainly caused by an enterovirus infection. This infection affects the tissues of your nose and throat, eyes, and digestive system. Many people who do experience an enterovirus infection will not fall ill at all but these infections have caused an estimated 10-15 million illnesses between the months of June and October. As in the case of most viral infections, enterovirus infections mainly affect children but adults can also fall ill.

Symptoms associated with enterovirus infections:

Enterovirus can cause a sudden high fever, mild respiratory symptoms, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. Less common types of enterovirus infections can cause pink eye or a rash. And in very rare cases some may affect the heart or brain muscles. These colds will generally clear up in a few days without treatment, but if you have concerning symptoms such as a rash or high fever then you will want to see a medical provider.

Treating a cold if you do fall ill:

There is no cure for a cold, but symptoms can be relieved by:

  • Resting in bed!
  • Drinking plenty of fluids!
  • Taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a headache or fever! (acetaminophen should not be taken when drinking alcohol or taking other drugs with acetaminophen in them)
  • Gargling with warm salt water or using ice chips, throat sprays or lozenges for a sore throat!
  • Using a decongestant or saline nasal spray for nasal symptoms!

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