Finally, winter is behind us, seasonal spring allergies have peaked and started to decrease, and the warm summer months are finally here. Now, all you can think about is spending some down time on the beach.
The last thing you need to worry about now is getting a cold, right? Wrong.
Germs are around us all year long, and the stresses that can exacerbate infections in the winter are replaced by different stresses in the summer:
- Higher levels of activity and exercise
- Less sleep runs down your immune system
- More vacations and travel lead to greater exposure
- More socializing means more contact with potentially sick people
Just when you thought you were safe from getting a cold or the flu, germs are still lurking around the corner, regardless of the time of year.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, it seems that the places we spend a lot of time at could be making us sick, too. Our homes, offices and healthcare facilities can harbor germs.
“Some bacteria, mold and viruses can remain viable for surprisingly long periods of time, in the strangest of locations,” says Ryan Hulland, Vice President of MonMan, a firm specializing in industrial air conditioning systems. “Testing we have conducted at various hospitals across the country show large reservoirs of microbial contamination can establish themselves in the HVAC system and can be very difficult to eradicate. The same goes for your home or office, too.”
But it’s not just in the places you frequent that you need to be careful of germs. Besides the standard advice of covering when you cough and thoroughly washing your hands, it is important to remember that some viruses remain active even in warm months.
You may have thought the danger was behind you, but you could be headed toward a nasty summer cold.
Enteroviruses are especially well-known for preferring the hot summer months, unlike the rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold.
According to the National Institute of Health, between June and October, roughly 10-15 million people in the United States will come down with a summer cold, most likely caused by an enterovirus.
Summer colds can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more. And, like all viruses, antibiotics will not help. There is no cure for the common cold, but getting enough rest and eating healthy foods can help keep your immune system up to the task of fighting off the virus.
The best way to fend off a summer cold that could ruin your family vacation is to prevent contact with the viruses that can cause these colds. Washing hands frequently, especially after going out in public, is a must. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and maintain a reasonable level of exercise.
Don’t count on hand sanitizers to save you from a cold, either. Some alcohol-free formulations have no effect on viruses. And no alcohol-based hand sanitizer can take the place of vigorously washing your hands with soap and warm water.
With these tips in mind, you just might make it through the summer vacation season cold-free!