Summer Colds and Flu: What You Need to Know
The summer means sun, warm weather, and beach vacations. The winter chill may have left the air, but that doesn’t mean the cold and flu have gone away. Even though these respiratory viruses tend to be more common in the winter months, you can still get sick in the summer too.
What do you need to know about a summer cold or flu? If you’re feeling stuffy, have a sore throat, have a fever, or are experiencing similar symptoms, take a look at how to care for yourself when sick during the summer months.
Get a Diagnosis
Do you have a cold or the flu, or do you just have allergies? Knowing the difference is the first step to finding the right treatment. Keep in mind, during the summer months seasonal allergies are often the cause behind upper respiratory symptoms. If you have a runny nose, watery eyes, a cough, or frequent sneezing, you may be allergic to everything that’s blooming around you. You’ll need a doctor’s diagnosis to confirm this issue.
If you don’t have allergies, you may have either the flu or a cold. Even though both illnesses affect the respiratory system, the flu is typically much more severe. For many people, a cold has a gradual onset, comes with a low or no fever, doesn’t include chills or aches, and may cause fatigue.
With the flu, you can expect a sudden onset, fever, ache, chills, weakness, and fatigue. You can expect these symptoms along with respiratory issues similar to the ones you’d find with a cold.
Even though paying attention to your symptoms is important, it isn’t the only step in the diagnosis process. You’ll need a medical professional’s diagnosis. The quicker you have a diagnosis, the sooner you can start the correct treatment.
Watch for Dehydration
Dehydration is always an issue with colds or the flu. But in the summer months, it can become even more problematic. Between the summer sun and the hot and humid weather, you have a recipe for serious water loss.
Drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun/heat, avoid over-exerting yourself, and choose low-sodium foods. Symptoms of dehydration to look for include sunken eyes, dark urine (or the inability to urinate), fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. You may also have dry lips or mouth.
If you’re dehydrated enough to feel dizzy and confused and have an elevated pulse, seek medical help immediately. The longer you go without adequate hydration, the more serious the condition can become. You may need an IV to completely rehydrate.
Treat the Illness
Along with staying hydrated, you can alleviate some of the symptoms or shorten the duration of your illness with the right medication. Always consult with a medical professional before taking any prescription or over the counter (OTC) medicine.
Antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of the flu. But you’ll need to start these meds within the first two days of infection to get the maximum benefit. Along with antivirals, the doctor may recommend an OTC pain or fever reliever. Patients also commonly use antihistamines to reduce or relieve nasal and respiratory symptoms — for both the cold and the flu.
Get Plenty of Rest
It can be hard to slow down in the summer. The kids want to go to the park, you have a vacation scheduled, your neighbors invited you to a barbeque, and there are dozens of other outdoor activities to do. Even though plenty of activities open up in the summer, you still need to rest when you’re sick.
Do you need prompt medical treatment or a diagnosis for your runny, stuffy nose? Contact Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc., for more information.