How to avoid summer colds

Summer fluThe sun is shining outside and you can hear the kids screaming with delight in the backyard. You should be out there with them, but instead you’re stuck indoors with a cold to keep you company, writes Debby Liu.

Sure, in winter it would be fine to be snuggled up on the couch in front of the TV, but in summer?! How did you even catch a cold in summer anyway?

Most colds are caused by viruses which don’t follow the four seasons, so it is possible to catch a cold at any time of year. However, it is more common in winter than in summer. This is because people are more likely to stay indoors in winter and are thus in closer contact with each other, increasing the risk of the cold virus being spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact. If you have a cold now in summer, you may have caught it from being indoors in the air-conditioned office.

Here are some ways you can beat the cold virus in summer so you can enjoy the beautiful weather with your family and friends.

No cure for a cold

There are currently no cures for the common cold.  This includes antibiotics. Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections which may occur secondary to the cold virus. The medicines available in the pharmacy for colds provide only relief from the symptoms of the cold so that you can continue with your daily activities. Some of these medicines are not suitable for all people, so always ask a pharmacist for advice before purchasing and taking a cold medication.

Cold Medication Purpose
DecongestantsNasal Sprays and Tablets May help to clear a blocked nose.
Antihistamine May help relieve a runny nose and sneezing.
Cough Suppressant May relieve a dry cough.  Not to be used for a chesty cough.
Expectorant & Mucolytics May help loosen and break up mucus in the airways.
Paracetamol, Ibuprofen Helps relieve pain, headache, sore throat, aches and fever.
Saline Nasal Sprays May help loosen and remove mucus from the nasal passages.
Lozenges May help soothe sore throats and coughing

Tips for avoiding a cold in summer

If you work in an office environment, you are probably well aware that when one colleague falls sick, the whole floor soon follows. In some ways it is inevitable due to the closed environment, the close proximity to everyone and the air-conditioning. Here are four tips on how you can minimise your risk of catching the cold from your colleagues.

  • Politely remind your colleague who has a cold to cover their nose and mouth with a tissue or the bend of their elbow when coughing or sneezing, not with their hand. Also to cover their nose when blowing with a tissue and to dispose of used tissues promptly and appropriately.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol based hand sanitiser, especially before cooking or eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth to minimise the transfer of the virus into your body.
  • Avoid sharing eating and drinking utensils.

To recap

You can catch the cold all year around, even in summer, although it is more common in winter. There is currently no cure but there are medications available in the pharmacy that can help relieve cold symptoms.  Always speak to a doctor or pharmacist before taking these medications as they are not suitable for everyone.

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