Tickle in your throat, a runny nose and sudden fever? Don’t panic. You’re not victim to a fourth wave of COVID-19 – you’re more likely to be hit with a warm-weather cold.
Whereas winter colds don’t normally cause a fever – as does COVID-19 – summer colds can in fact cause fevers, sore throat, hacking cough, diarrhea and skin rash, as well as the usual runny nose and congestion.
Summer colds also tend to last longer, recur more often and and can be a danger to babies.
How COVID-19 complicates things
For people who have spent months in lockdown – coupled with the wearing of masks and observing social distancing – we’ve suffered fewer colds and doses of the flu.
This has come at a cost. As an explainer at The Conversation observes: If people aren’t exposed to cold viruses as a result of social distancing and masking, “a lack of immunity can build up and may result in surges of respiratory infection in the coming months and years”.
This becomes especially important when social control measures are relaxed “and people begin to congregate and mix more” – as is happening right now.
Cold symptoms worse
For those of us who had a cold in the last year, the symptoms were reportedly more intense. As The Sydney Morning Herald reported last month, sufferers tended to feel “more fatigued, more achey, more sniffly”.
In Australia, we’re fortunate, too, that our “liberation” from COVID-19 social measures is happening as we move into warmer weather – instead of cold and flu-prone winter.
However, summer colds tend to be more problematic than winter colds.
This is because they’re caused by enteroviruses. Unlike common cold viruses (rhinovirus, coronavirus and picornavirus), enteroviruses thrive in warmer weather.
Most enterovirus infections don’t ordinarily have symptoms. But, again, the depressed immunity against viral infections because of lockdown will see more people getting sick.
How do enteroviruses spread?
They spread much the same way as common cold viruses: coughing, sneezing or contact with contaminated surfaces.
So keep washing those hands, frequently.
However, summer colds can also be spread by fecal-oral route. Which means be vigilant with washing your hands after going to the toilet, and also if handling dirty nappies or soiled bedding.