On a beautiful, warm summer day, you may least expect to have a scratchy throat, sneezing, and congestion, though it’s entirely possible to experience the common cold or allergy symptoms during this time of year.
Most seasonal allergy sufferers experience discomfort during springtime when trees pollinate. But others who are allergic to grass or ragweed can develop allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and sneezing well into the summer.
When the weather turns warm, the viruses that cause most colds tend to shift. Summer colds are largely caused by enteroviruses, which trigger upper respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose, congestion, and sore throat, as well as gastrointestinal issues.
How do people know if they have a summer cold or allergies, and how would their symptoms differ?
According to Dr. Annie Chern, a primary care physician, faculty member at Stanford Health Care Family Medicine Residency Program, and Tivic medical advisory board member, “Symptoms from summer colds and allergies can sometimes be hard to differentiate. In general, the patient’s history can provide a clue. If the symptoms began suddenly, and if the patient was around other people with similar symptoms before them (we call these “sick contacts”), and consist of fevers, chills, body aches, or cough, they are more likely to be from a cold virus. Allergies typically have a more gradual or seasonal onset, are not associated with fevers or chills, and tend to be more noticeable with exposures to outdoor pollen, dander, or dust.”
Dr. Chern also shares what people need to know about the latest Covid variant XBB.1.16 and its symptoms as we head into summer. “The symptoms of this variant are fairly similar to previous Covid variants – with runny nose, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue. However, what’s new with this variant is that it seems to cause conjunctivitis – a condition with an itchy, red eye, commonly known as pink eye.
“This symptom is also commonly found in allergies so it can be difficult to differentiate. When in doubt, I recommend visiting your doctor for an exam and tests,” continued Dr. Chern.
Congestion is a common symptom shared by colds and allergies – and being stuffed up during the warm summer months can make you feel doubly miserable. In addition, no one wants to experience congestion symptoms during peak summer travel and vacation season. Dr. Chern shares these natural remedies and tips for congestion relief:
- Run a humidifier in your home or office to soothe irritated nasal tissues, reduce sinus inflammation, and thin out mucus to help it drain.
- Stand in a hot, steamy shower room.
- Rinse out your nasal passages using a neti pot or saline nasal spray to remove irritants, allergens, and germs.
- Stay hydrated to make it easier for congested sinuses to drain.
- Revamp your nighttime routine by propping up a pillow or two under your head to help you breathe easier.
- Consider using ClearUP, a bioelectronic sinus device that uses small doses of electrical current to stimulate affected nerves and relieve congestion. ClearUP is 100% drug-free and provides rapid, lasting relief.