We’re all familiar with the common winter cold; the sniffling nose, the sore, cracked lips and the relentless tiredness. Yet many of us think once the summer comes round we’re safe. In fact, colds can strike at any time and although they are more common during autumn and winter, we still have a one in four chance of catching a cold during the warmer months.
Summer colds are slightly different to the ones we usually experience in winter, and are caused by different germs. The virus generally found in the summer cold is called enterovirus and can give you diarrhoea, sore throats and rashes as well as the other nasty side effects of the common cold.
How to avoid a summer cold: Get outdoors
Spending too much time cooped up indoors with other (potentially infectious) people you are more likely to breathe in the infected droplets that cause colds. Heading outside in the fresh air reduces your chances of coming into contact with these airborne particles. Though outdoor exercise is good for your health too, even just sitting in the garden or going for a slow stroll outside can made a difference.
How to avoid a summer cold: Switch off
If you want to avoid sneezing and sniffling your way through summer you need to switch off your air conditioning. Although when the temperature soars it can be tempting to rely on the air con, you may be putting yourself at risk of infection. This is because the lining of your nose, which has a thin layer of mucus coated within it that protects us from infection, can dry out when the air con is on full blast. Instead, keep cool by wearing looser clothing, drink plenty of cold water and use cooling sprays for those really hot days.
How to avoid a summer cold: De-stress
We all know that when we’re feeling under pressure we often come down with a bug because stress depresses our immune systems. So how do you de-stress? Most would think that going on a sunny beach holiday would help lower sky-high stress levels, but holidays are often stressful in a different way. A study undertaken by Lloyds TSB found that 83 per cent of their participants became severely stressed before their holiday. Try our simple stress-busters to give yourself a break.
How to avoid a summer cold: Cold or hay fever?
When the pollen count is high it can be difficult to know whether you have a cold or whether it’s hay fever. To make sure you get your diagnosis right there are a few signs to look out for. If your eyes or your nose feels itchy then the chances are you have hay fever, but if you have a sore throat or a banging headache, as well as the other cold-like symptoms, then you probably have a summer cold. Knowing this will help you make a more informed choice when it comes to choosing medication.
How to avoid a summer cold: Foods to eat
Not only can you avoid doing certain things to stop yourself from catching a summer cold, you can also eat certain foods. Unfortunately, for most westerners upping your intake of vitamin C won’t actually help you avoid a summer cold. Instead, foods containing zinc, such as shellfish and dairy foods will help to ward off summer bugs. For a cooling summer treat, munch on some watermelon, which is a great source of zinc. Women should aim to consume around 4-7mg of zinc per day, and men 5.5-9.5mg.
How to avoid a summer cold: Travel solo
Summer wouldn’t be summer without trips to exotic countries and fun excursions to sunny seaside spots. However, when you travel you are more susceptible to summer colds because you are travelling within a confined space and potentially exposing yourself to a whopping 400 sources of cold infections. If you can, travel by car to avoid cramped plane or train carriages. The Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University also found that the longer the journey the more likely you are to become infected, so if you’ve had a poorly summer, it might be worth picking a holiday destination closer to home.