What is a summer cold?
Although there are some similarities between summer and winter colds in terms of the symptoms experienced and their duration, there are a number of differences too. Whilst winter colds are caused by the rhinovirus for example, summer ones arise due to the enterovirus. This can be nastier as it often leads to flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever and achy joints, as well as the usual sore throat, coughing, runny nose and blocked nose. It is also common for this virus to re-occur two or three times a year meaning that most people don’t just experience one summer cold but a number of them.
A summer cold can often be mistaken for allergies as they share a few of the same symptoms however, there are a few things that distinguish the two. Allergies often involve watery, itchy and red eyes for example, while summer colds do not. Also, allergies tend to fluctuate depending on things like the weather, the pollen count and the amount of trees, weeds and grass in the area. So, with these things in mind you should be able to distinguish whether or not you have a summer cold.
Increase your vitamin C intake
This is often touted as an effective remedy for colds and flu but why exactly is that? Well, cells in the immune system can accumulate vitamin C which they need to perform vital processes including the resistance of viruses. These cells include phagocytes which ingest harmful foreign particles (like cold and flu viruses) and t-cells which play a part in immunity. Therefore, the immune system depends on vitamin C to function effectively and any deficiency in this could weaken it.1
So, vitamin C helps to strengthen the immune system and in doing so it could reduce the length of your summer cold. Therefore, the next question is how can you up your vitamin C intake?
Well, there are, of course, a multitude of different foods that contain the vitamin including oranges, broccoli, strawberries and even Brussels sprouts! To maximize your vitamin C intake you could eat some of these things as snacks during the day or incorporate them into meals. You could take a look at our food hub for some recipe ideas but some of my favourites include:
•Pumpkin spice breakfast bars
•Broccoli, kale and sweet potato soup
•Strawberry and pear smoothie
Although there are lots of foods that contain vitamin C, during a cold you may wish to increase your intake further by trying a supplement. If so, I’d advise choosing one that contains naturally-occurring vitamin C rather than one that is made synthetically. Our Nature-C tablets are a good option as these are made from a variety of foods including blackcurrants, passion fruit, Sea buckthorn and lemon.
If you’ve read any of my other blogs on colds and flu then you’ll have definitely heard about Echinacea! This vibrant plant supports and strengthens the immune system which, in turn, helps to maintain the body’s resistance to summer colds. So, when the sniffles strike, you should definitely give Echinacea a go and our Echinaforce Echinacea Drops are a great place to start! These are unique as they are made from fresh extracts of the Echinacea plant meaning they do not lose any of their beneficial properties during the production process.
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Drink plenty of water
From skin health to kidney function, a high, regular intake of water is important for many aspects of our health. However, during a troublesome summer cold, it is even more important that you drink lots of water.
Not only is the weather warmer in the summer months thus causing us to sweat more and lose fluids quicker, cold symptoms like sweating and a runny nose can exasperate the problem. Therefore, in order to avoid dehydration these fluids must be replaced by drinking lots of water – 1.5-2l is the recommended daily amount. Plus remember, drinks like tea, coffee and alcohol can actually dehydrate you so try to avoid these whilst battling your cold.
Treat your nasal symptoms
Whether it’s a blocked or runny nose, summer colds regularly cause nasal symptoms. So, in order to treat these you have a couple of options, one of which is to inhale steam. Steam contains both heat and water which can thin the mucus in your sinuses and soothe irritated nasal passages. This means that warm baths and showers are in order!
Another natural option for treating congestion is our Sinuforce Nasal Spray. This contains menthol, peppermint oil, chamomile oil and eucalyptus which has a soothing effect on the nose.
Use cough remedies
Although there are a number of treatments to relieve coughs quickly, a natural option would be either our Bronchoforce Chesty Cough Remedy or our Bronchosan Tickly Cough Remedy. Depending on the type of cough you have, these will help ease irritation in the respiratory tract plus they are free from any side effects like drowsiness which are commonly experienced with traditional cough remedies.
Drink herbal teas
There are a range of herbal teas that can help fight summer colds quickly so whatever your tastes, there will be one to suit you! Our Echinacea Hot Drink is good place to start as it contains Echinacea which, as I already mentioned, is really beneficial if you are suffering from a cold. That’s not all though as it is both soothing and palatable, helping to ease symptoms like a sore throat.
Another option is green tea which is loaded with antioxidants called catechins which fight disease, as well as cold viruses.
However, if you don’t like the sound of either of these options then you could just mix some warm water with honey and lemon. The steam from this will help symptoms in the nose whilst honey helps soothe the throat. Plus, with the addition of a little lemon, overall this drink is very pleasant-tasting.
Many people will find that their summer colds last longer than a winter one but this is partly to do with the fact that we are more active in the summer months meaning we don’t give our bodies the space to recover.
So, if you are suffering from a summer cold try to take a break from your regular exercise regime and ensure you get plenty of sleep. Plus, don’t immediately start exercising at the first sign that your cold has gone – it will take time for it to recover completely.
Give it time
A summer cold usually clears up ten days to two weeks after you first experience symptoms so as well as following the steps above, you need to give yourself time to recover. If your symptoms do not clear up after two weeks though, do arrange to see your doctor for further advice.