Summer Colds Are Back With a Vengeance

Relaxing lockdown boundaries is giving our immune systems a workout
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2021 10:45 AM CDT
Summer Colds Are Back Now That the Masks Are Off
Stock image of a woman with a cold.   (Andrea Piacquadio/

Freaking out over a case of the sniffles is a totally normal thing to do right now. People who have been scrupulously observing lockdowns and mask mandates for more than a year are starting to relax, and relax their boundaries. The masks come off at the bar, everyone’s shouting at the big game, and a few days later the scratchy throat hits. All the little respiratory infections that usually get passed around offices and schools are back now that people are meeting up in person, Insider reports. The medical community is seeing a jump in RSV, a usually mild respiratory virus, compared to previous months with lockdowns and mask mandates in place. Colds are normal and ultimately next to impossible to avoid. And the surge is not just due to people throwing caution to the wind and masks in the garbage.

Stress, increased alcohol intake, and not getting enough sleep—all common lockdown side effects—can weaken immune systems, too, the New York Times reports. (Its headline: "Why Everyone Has the Worst Summer Cold Ever.") The CDC is working on a report on the pandemic’s effect on a few respiratory viruses such as RSV. But until then, there are things you can do. “Wash your hands, cover your sneeze, get rest, all those things,” says Allison Agwu, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center. "Get your COVID vaccine so you’re less paranoid when you get a cold.” Also, get tested for COVID if you have symptoms. And if you feel sick? Rest and fluids, just like normal. (The flu all but disappeared in the last season.)

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