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This is why you get colds in summer

Ever end up sneezing, blowing your nose and feeling, well, coldy during the summer months?

Some put it down to hayfever, others think they’ve picked something up on a plane but rarely do people assume they have the same thing they had in the deep, dark, depths of December. Turns out, colds aren’t caused by the cold.

We spoke to Dr Luke Powles, Lead GP at Bupa Crossrail and Kings Cross Health Clinics, to find out everything you need to know about the summertime illness…

Is a summer cold the same thing as a normal cold?

“There are a number of different strains of the cold; however there isn’t one specifically caused by the warmer months. It may come as a surprise, but the common cold isn’t actually caused by the temperature or seasons at all. It’s caused by the spread of cold viruses.

“Anecdotally I do see more people catching a cold in the winter months, but this may be  because we tend to bunch more around others indoors when it’s cold making it easier for viruses to spread.”

Are any particular strains of cold more dominant in some seasons?

“There is some evidence to suggest that the Enterovirus (one type of cold virus) can be more prevalent during the summer months, however you’re likely to experience similar symptoms to other strains of the cold regardless of what time of the year it is.

“It’s not uncommon to mistake a common cold for seasonal allergies as the symptoms can be quite similar (runny nose, sore throat etc.). One quick way of checking is by looking what is in the tissue after blowing your nose. If it is not clear in colour, and is thicker in consistency, then it’s more likely to be a cold.”

What are common symptoms?

“Common symptoms of a cold include a stuffy and snotty nose, sore throat, cough, feeling feverish and sneezing. You may also experience a cough and sometimes vomiting. If you start to experience muscle or body aches you may have caught the flu.”

How should you treat a cold in summer?

“As you would treat a cold in the winter, drink plenty of water, gargle with salt water to help a sore throat, and try nasal decongestant drops or sprays to clear up congestion in the nose. Nasal decongestants should not be used for more than five days as they can have the reverse effect if overused. Take paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin to relieve any pain you may have.”