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Why are so many suffering from summer colds?

Doctors say they've seen an increase this year

ATLANTA — Summer colds are nothing new, but when they’re as intense and frequent as they’ve been this summer, it’s worth taking note.

The symptoms are as intense as the Georgia sun with coughing, a sore throat, and headaches that can last two weeks or more. Doctors are reporting an increase in patients seeking help for relief from summer colds.

Virus like those that cause the common cold are always around. Every time we encounter them our immune system remembers how to fight back. During the pandemic, we’ve had fewer encounters with each other and fewer chances to share those viruses.

That’s changing.

“All of a sudden we’re back in contact with people,” says Dr. Gavin Harris of Emory’s School of Medicine. “Your immune systems are slower to respond so we may become more sick.”

RELATED: Cold weather virus in summer baffles doctors, worries parents

Dr. Harris it’s not that our immune system loses its memory. But when it gets some time off from fighting a particular virus, it’s like an athlete that hasn’t competed in little while.

Dr. John Brooks of the CDC says frequent encounters with a cold virus are like booster shots of a vaccine.

“It kind of ups the immunity a little bit,” says Dr. Brooks. “Your immune system is just as strong as it’s ever been, it’s just that we haven’t had those little boosters this year from exposure to routine viruses.”

Now, young students are going back to school providing even more opportunities for viruses to spread.

“There’s no telling how their bodies might react,” sayd Dr. Harris. “It’s going to be a real challenge and something parents should be on the lookout for.”

Children with symptoms of the common cold may have RSV-- respiratory syncytial virus. Most people recover in a week or two but doctors say it can be quite serious for children and older adults.