A summer cold is simply a common cold you catch during summertime. Some people may think you can only catch a cold during winter. Others might also mistake a summer cold for other issues, such as allergies. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be cold outside to catch a cold.

If you catch a cold in summer, it will be exactly like catching a cold in the winter. Even if it’s hot outside, the rhinovirus that causes common colds can spread and infect people just as easily.

It may be difficult to tell whether you have a common cold or summer allergies. However, if you know the major differences between the two, telling one from the other can be easy:

You’ll have other symptoms

Colds and allergies share the traits of sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and an itchy or sore throat. But a cold will also include other symptoms like coughing, sweating, and fever.

Allergies will last longer

Did your symptoms disappear after one to two weeks? If so, you probably had a summer cold that ran its course. If symptoms persist longer than two weeks and don’t go away, then you’re probably dealing with allergies.

Symptoms will fluctuate

Likewise, if your symptoms change in severity — start mild, worsen, and then return to mild (or disappear altogether) — you’re dealing with a cold. Allergies tend to be consistent and persistent.

Onset of symptoms is different

With colds, you’ll usually experience the onset of each individual symptom at separate times. With allergies, all of them will come on at once.

Symptoms change when you travel

If you travel from one type of region to another and symptoms improve (or get worse), it’s more likely that you have allergies. This is especially the case if you travel from one place to another with vastly different pollinating plants and potential allergens.

Nasal discharge will be different

Since colds are infections, the mucus after blowing your nose will be thick and greenish or yellowish. With allergies, mucus will be translucent and usually thinner in consistency.

Of course, many classic winter cold treatments apply to summer colds as well. To treat a summer cold:

  • Rest up. Make sure to get plenty of rest and sleep. Avoid excessive activity and stress that could challenge the immune system. Even though summer is full of tempting outdoor activities, you may have to stay inside and rest for long periods.
  • Stay nourished and hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Avoid beverages that could dehydrate, like alcohol, coffee, or energy drinks. Hot beverages like tea could be soothing and helpful to symptoms. Make sure your intake of vitamins and minerals is strong, especially of immune-boosting nutrients like iron, vitamin C, and zinc.
  • Herbal remedies. Herbs cannot kill or fight a cold. Still, studies show that some can support the immune system, helping it better fight colds. Popular herbs for fighting rhinovirus are echinacea, licorice root, elderberry, and garlic.
  • Humidifiers and steams. Humidifiers cannot directly get rid of a cold. But they can help relieve symptoms, especially runny nose, congestion, sore throat, and coughing.

A cold in the summer will last about as long as any cold in winter. On average, a cold lasts about 10 days total, with symptoms drastically improving around day seven.

Children tend to resolve colds much quicker than adults, usually in less than a week. Some adults, on the other hand, may deal with colds for up to about two weeks. This depends on age, health, genetics, and other factors.

The more you take care of yourself and use cold care remedies, the quicker your cold will be likely to clear up. Go see your doctor if your cold lasts longer than two weeks.

There’s no way to completely prevent yourself from getting a cold, whether in summer or winter. But there are ways you can reduce your chance of getting one.

  • Take care of your immune system. There are many ways to do this: eating nutritious foods, avoiding too much stress, and even taking supplements that contain immune-boosting natural remedies.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Getting adequate sleep is essential to resetting the immune system each day so that it functions properly.
  • Wash your hands. Make sure to wash your hands, especially in restrooms of public spaces and areas where pathogens can be prevalent.
  • Avoid those who have a cold. If you know someone has a cold, avoid interacting with them. If you get close to or touch them, make sure to wash up quickly afterward.