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Why you have a cold right now

People across the country say they are suffering from horrible colds. Here’s why

A man sneezes holding a tissue in Berlin, Germany.
In this Jan. 14, 2005, file photo, a man sneezes holding a tissue in Berlin, Germany. This year, summer colds are a concern for many.
Roberto Pfeil, Associated Press

Don’t sniffle at this — the summer cold is back. And it’s back with authority, as people across the country have experienced some of the worst colds they’ve ever had, according to The New York Times.

Why did I get a cold?

The New York Times reports that people are now experiencing heavy colds for the summer because we’ve been spending time away from others for the better part of a year. Taking off our masks and engaging in social activity has led to the spread of normal viruses that our bodies are not used to right now.

  • Our immune systems haven’t gone through the same routines as before, experts told The New York Times.

Your immune system needs time to adjust to society again before it picks up full immunity against small colds, according to The New York Times.

  • “Frequent exposure to various pathogens primes or jazzes up the immune system to be ready to respond to that pathogen,” Dr. Paul Skolnik, an immunovirologist, told The New York Times. “If you’ve not had those exposures, your immune system may be a little slower to respond or doesn’t respond as fully, leading to greater susceptibility to some respiratory infections and sometimes longer or more protracted symptoms.”

Is it cold or is it COVID-19?

There’s also a chance that you’re not experiencing a cold at all. You might be suffering from a coronavirus infection. In fact, Dr. Eddie Stenehjem, an infectious diseases physician with Intermountain Healthcare, told the Deseret News that more people are reporting cold symptoms that might be the delta variant of the coronavirus.

  • “More people are seeing that COVID-19 is resulting in just common cold symptoms. You know, sore throat, runny nose. Not as much cough, higher fever, etc.,” he said.
  • “COVID-19 is an upper respiratory infection, period. So if you have the signs and symptoms of a cold, that could be COVID-19,” Stenehjem said. “It is possible that we’re seeing kind of an evolution of symptoms due to the changing variant. But it’s also possible we’re just seeing a difference in symptoms based on age.”

This has been the case for doctors across the country, who are concerned people are getting sick with respiratory illnesses that aren’t COVID-19 even if they are similar symptoms to coronavirus.

Doctors and health officials recommend getting a COVID-19 test if you experience any symptoms similar to coronavirus infection.

  • “COVID can present in different ways,” said Dr. Russell Vinik, chief medical operations officer at the University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City, according to NBC News. “If you think you have a cold, you’re infectious, and whether that’s COVID or a cold, you should consider getting a test.”