Summer colds can really ruin fun in the sun. Here’s how to handle the sniffles that hit between May and October

I’m back and still on the subject of summer. This time it’s the tale of summer colds, one of the occupational hazards of enjoying days of bright sunshine.

For years, I was unaware that there was a difference between summer and winter colds.

Then, I noticed that I was getting the sniffles more often during warm climate. Worse, they were full-blown colds, along with chest congestion, a running nose, fever, body ache, sore throat, headache, bad coughs, bone-jarring sneezes, sometimes even diarrhea.

During the last couple of years, I monitored my summer and winter colds (yes, I’m a little weird that way), and realised that in balmy Bangalore, the cold climate colds lasted just a few days.

Summer colds, however, played out in full drama for a week and more (my record is more than a fortnight), then went away, only to return with a cussed vengeance.

Dr Deepa Das, a pulmonologist, gives me the reason. Summer colds, she says, are caused by viruses quite different from the winter ones.

To be specific, it’s the enterovirus , which usually causes the summer cold, and the rhinovirus which is responsible for winter sickness.

Both types of virus thrive where large numbers of people gather, such as buses, trains, flights, crowded shopping areas, schools and the like. Only, summer colds are harder to shake off and are more likely to reoccur.

Moreover, in the chill climate, we prefer to snuggle down and rest that cold; in summer, we are mostly in and out of air-conditioned buildings. Which, of course, doesn’t help that cold anyway.

This constant exposure to re-circulated air dries out the lining of the nostrils, making it an open port to viruses.

The other fact to make a note of is, the enterovirus spreads through the faecal-oral route; any contact with one’s own unclean hands or items associated with fecal waste (this includes doorknobs touched by people as well as soiled clothing, diapers, etc) may transmit this virus. Upping your hand-washing routine in summer would be the wisest move.

On the natural medication front, after echinacea, which for years was the go-to herbal medication for the common cold, now there is the natural antiviral called Gene-Eden-VIR, a combination of green tea, licorice, selenium, quercetin and cinnamon.

This is in the form of a capsule to be taken at the onset of cold symptoms, and is fast gaining popularity in the U.S.

Summer colds are caused by viruses quite different from the winter ones