When the weather is summery, most people assume they don’t have to worry about cold-weather illnesses like a cold. But scratchy throats, stuffed-up noses, and fevers can strike at any time of the year. A summer cold seems particularly unfair since it can keep you in bed on a beautiful, sunny day when you’d rather be enjoying the outdoors.
Are summer colds and winter colds the same thing? Do the same germs make us miserable whether the days are long or short? Here’s what infectious disease experts say are the differences between summer and winter colds.
Tammy Lundstrom, MD, JD, chief medical officer and infectious disease specialist for national health system Trinity Health, told Verywell that while the symptoms of a cold may seem generic—a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, cough, achiness, and sometimes a low fever—there are hundreds of viruses could be the cause.
“There are over 200 different viruses that can cause colds,” said Lundstrom. “Most can occur at any time of the year, but a few are more seasonal since the temperature can determine how long the virus can live on a surface.”
Zachary Hoy, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical director at Pediatrix Medical Group, told Verywell that summer colds tend to be caused by viruses like enterovirus or adenovirus that can hold up well in the heat, while winter colds tend to be caused by rhinoviruses, which have a lower tolerance for heat.