How to identify a summer cold

How to identify a summer cold

Many people think that you can only catch a virus, like the common cold, in winter or when it’s cold outside. But a cold is caused by viruses that are in the air around us, and this is the only way you can catch this illness.

As these viruses can be found in both winter and summer, it’s possible to get a cold at any time of year, even in summer when the outside temperature is typically warmer. They can be more prevalent in winter, but summer colds are also relatively common and many people can mistake them for allergies[1].

Read on to find out more about the symptoms of a summer cold and how you can identify whether you’re ill from a virus or from allergies. 


What are the symptoms of a summer cold?

A summer cold usually presents the same symptoms as a winter cold, including a sore throat, a cough, a runny nose, sinus congestion, headaches and fatigue.

Unlike a winter cold, you may also experience a fever with a summer cold. This is because a cold in the summer is usually caused by the enterovirus. This can cause fevers or chills. The virus that most affects us in winter is the rhinovirus, which reduces in number during the warmer months and increases again in the run up to winter[1]


Are summer colds worse than winter colds?

Some people do state that a summer cold feels worse than a winter one, or that it lasts longer, but there is no scientific evidence to support these statements. 

Generally, a summer cold can feel worse because everyone else is outside and enjoying themselves, making the most of the warm weather. When you try to join in and push on through the virus, you may not be getting the rest you need and could increase recovery time. When you have a cold in winter, recovery time can be faster as you are more likely to spend your evenings indoors, perhaps huddled up under a duvet, instead.

We also tend to get more dehydrated in the hot weather, and this could hinder recovery too[1].

For this reason, whether you have a winter or a summer cold, you should try to give your body the rest it needs, drink plenty of fluids and use the right medication to ease your symptoms, such as paracetamol or honey and lemon throat lozenges


Is it a summer cold or allergies?

It can be difficult to determine whether you have a summer cold or allergies, as the symptoms can generally be the same, or at least very similar. But there may be some key differences to help you tell the difference.

Firstly, antihistamines won’t work for a cold, so if you believe you have allergies and have been taking these tablets to no avail, you likely have a summer cold.

The symptoms may differ a little bit too. It’s common to have a sore throat and a runny nose with both a virus and allergies, but a summer cold will also come with a cough or a fever[1]

Finally, allergies will last significantly longer than a cold. Whereas the latter will hang around for no more than 10 days, allergies could last weeks or even months[2]

Have I got a summer cold or hayfever?

A summer cold can present similar symptoms to that of hay fever, including sneezing and a runny nose. However, with hay fever, you will probably also find that you have runny eyes that sting a bit[3]. It’s very rare to have this symptom with a cold, which means it is likely hay fever or another allergy.