When vaccinations began to roll out, the hope for normalcy began to spread like wildfire; however, we were met with another hindrance in health, the common cold. After being stuck in the house for so long, people have gone almost a full year without exposing themselves to this sickness. Given that, it could even be said that the population has forgotten what a cold feels like, making these illnesses come across as more severe.
While wearing masks may limit the spread of the common cold, people are apprehensive about wearing a mask while sick. It does not sound entirely pleasant to surround themselves with their germs within the mask.
It is possible that the massive surge of the common cold shows the power being in lockdown has. Our immune systems have gone unexposed to sickness for so long.
According to the CDC, the average adult contracts between two to three common colds each year. In simple terms, catching a cold is fairly normal, and not something that should provoke terror. However, COVID-19 has instilled a new fear of disease amongst people. Many are unaware of what is going on with them when they become sick. Do they have COVID-19? Is it the flu? Is it just the common cold? People are questioning every symptom they have. Reports of scratchy throats, headaches, body aches, and runny noses, could be signs of many illnesses.
Consequently, it is not just the sick patient who is feeling the nerves of being a bit ill. People have claimed that even if you have simply caught a case of the common cold when you are around other people, they are extremely apprehensive and suspicious.
Sacramento resident Carlie Guadanolo-Edwards recalled her experience at the doctor's office for the New York Times, claiming that the receptionist at the office was suspicious of her sneeze, even after she explained that she follows all necessary COVID-19 precautions while being fully vaccinated. Both physically and socially, the distance was kept between the receptionist and Guadanolo-Edwards. According to Luna Dolezal, a professor of philosophy who studied the impact of shame in medicine at The University of Exeter in Britain, in reality, this is not uncommon. She expanded upon a stigma that has formed in the United States, especially since the pandemic, that claims how something as simple as a cough, now has so much more depth and hints of danger to people.
Ultimately, with the rise of common cold cases, we can only conclude that this is an effect of quarantining and having our immune systems so unexposed to a myriad of germs for a long period of time. As COVID-19 continues to spread, we also have to be aware that it is not the only sickness that exists. The common cold is “common” for a reason.