Can You Get A Cold From Camping? (Must Know This)

Can You Get a Cold From Camping

Staying outdoors for some days is a beautiful experience, but some people have reported feeling sick during and after camping.

This experience can be quite frustrating because it affects your performance. Most people expect a cold to be a common camping sickness.

However, there are different conflicting opinions about getting a cold from camping. It would help to read this article thoroughly to answer this question and other related ones.

It is possible to get a cold from camping due to exposure to a viral infection. Viral infections on campgrounds are common because of the living conditions. You could contact it from another camper or touch infected surfaces. This virus gets into your body and weakens your immune system to cause colds and other related illnesses.    

In this article, I will help you understand if camping causes a cold if getting cold after camping is common, and why you feel sick after camping.

By the end, you’ll also know if camping can cause a sore throat and if camping in the cold gives you pneumonia.

Can Camping Give You a Cold?

Can You Get a Cold From Camping

You can catch a cold from camping because it exposes you to several conditions that could make you sick.

You tend to get a cold from performing outdoor activities because it exposes you to viral infections. 

Viral infections occur through infected surfaces or transferring from one person to another (common in crowded campgrounds).

Catching a cold refers to viral illnesses like sinus infection, fever, stomach bugs, cough, sore throat, or upper respiratory infections.

It will begin as a simple symptom before it finally manifests. Ultimately, you could get one or a combination of these illnesses while camping. 

Managing a cold at home is easy, but doing so in the wilderness can be challenging. It could make your stay on the campground uncomfortable.

The best way to stay healthy in camp is to prevent any sickness. 

Here are some tips to help you avoid a cold while camping.

  • Always wash your hands properly before cooking, after using the bathroom, etc.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like water bottles, cutleries, toiletries, etc.
  • Always protect your food and keep the cooking area clean.
  • Do not cook for others if you are sick, nor accept food from a sick person.
  • Clean cooking and eating utensils with hot water to sterilize them.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow, or stay away from a sick person.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid touching your face unnecessarily.

Is It Common to Get a Cold After Camping?     

Yes, it is common to get a cold after camping. Getting sick after camping results from different kinds of exposure while you are outdoors.

Viruses and bacteria spread quickly on campgrounds. Sometimes these micro-organisms accumulate in the human body until the immune system succumbs.

Then, you come down with a sickness weeks after the exposure. Sometimes, you may not experience any symptoms until the illness manifests.

Other times, you may have started experiencing symptoms while on the campground before it eventually weakens you after camping.

It is common for campers to end up in hospitals after camping, especially those with weak immune systems or extreme exposure.

However, it is best to pack a medical kit and healthy foods when going to camp to avoid coming down with a cold.

Some medications and food can help boost your immunity against contaminants so you don’t break down after camp.

Why Do I Feel Sick After Camping?

Sickness after camping is common among campers. However, determining the cause is difficult because there are several possible reasons.

Everyone has different conditions that trigger their sickness, so it would help to trace the cause back to during and after camping.

Here are the likely reasons you feel sick after camping.

#1. Climatic Changes

You could get sick after camping due to climatic or temperature changes. This situation mostly happens if you camp somewhere with a different climate.

For instance, if you camped in hot weather and went home to cold weather. The sudden change in temperature after camping adversely affects your health.

Some viruses and bacteria thrive in different temperatures. Therefore, you may contaminate them in camp, but your immune system may suppress them.

Then, you get sick when you return home because the temperature helps them thrive. Sometimes, the weather change can trigger allergies that result in sickness.

#2. Rodents

Rodents are common in the wilderness, and food odor attracts them. Sometimes, they may get to your food or personal belongings.

These rodents are contaminant vectors. Eating or getting close to anything they or their droppings touched exposes you to these contaminants.

#3. Unsterilized Lake or River Water

Drinking river or lake water can be very hazardous. It may contain pollutants, chemicals, and contaminants that thrive in water.

Directly consuming water from these lakes or rivers exposes you to these factors. They accumulate in your body and eventually manifest after a while.

It is advisable to carry drinking water to camp. In case you can’t, always boil any water you get from lakes or rivers before drinking.

#4. Excessive Sun Exposure

Camping outdoors is fun with the sun and air on your face. However, avoiding too much sun exposure would be best so you don’t get heat rash or sunburns.

Excess exposure to the sun results in itchiness and blisters, which may cause deep red bumps if you don’t treat them early.

These skin conditions do not just go away after camping. Leaving them untreated may make you feel sick for weeks, even after camp.

#5. Insect Bites

Staying outside exposes you to mosquitoes or bugs. Some insect-related illnesses do not manifest until several days or weeks after exposure.

So, it is customary to get sick from insect bites after camping.

#6. Wild Plants

Mistaking edible plants or berries in the wilderness can expose you to food poisoning. Some of these plants could prick you and cause an infection that becomes obvious over time.

You may feel sick because you touched or ate these plants while camping. It is best to have some wild plants and fruits knowledge before camping.

#7. Improper Hygiene

Maintaining proper hygiene at the camp can be challenging, but thoroughly cleaning when you return from camping is essential.

Some contaminants may have gotten into your personal belongings while you were camping. It is advisable to wash every cooking utensil and do laundry to ensure safety.

Also, wash your hands and bathe before touching food or your face when you return from camp. It helps to get rid of contaminants you may have touched.

Can Camping Give You a Sore Throat?

It is possible to get a sore throat from camping. The causes may include cold air, campfire smoke, or acid reflux from sleeping on an incline.

Sore throat is a common symptom of flu or cold triggered by a viral infection or exposure to dry or cold air. Staying outdoors in the cold for days puts you in this situation.

It could also be due to exposure to a new environment, an allergy, or the spread of a virus on campgrounds.

However, you may experience other symptoms like a headache, red and itchy eyes, or shortness of breath if the sore throat results from smoke inhalation.

A sore throat isn’t severe but could be painful or difficult to swallow. Although, it could last for a few days, after which it goes away on its own.

Treatment for the sore throat depends on what causes it, but you can try home remedies like frequently gargling warm salt water to reduce irritation and swelling. 

Can You Get Pneumonia From Camping in the Cold?

Camping in the cold doesn’t directly cause pneumonia but increases your chances of developing it. 

Unlike the widespread belief that cold weather causes pneumonia, the leading cause is usually a bacterial or viral infection.

Most people only believe exposure to the cold causes pneumonia because the same virus that causes the common cold can expose your immune system to it.

Pneumonia-causing viruses or bacteria can get into your throat or nose, gradually spreading to your lungs.

Over time, the infection weakens your immune system and causes fluid to fill your lungs. Although camping in the cold doesn’t cause pneumonia, exposure to certain conditions during camping can cause it.

The table below contains the possible causes of pneumonia during camping.

Pneumonia TypeCauses
Viral pneumoniaViral organisms from complications like chicken pox, measles, etc.
Aspiration pneumoniaBacteria from mouth or stomach during vomiting.
Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia (P.C.P.)A weak immune system triggers normal harmless lung micro-organisms.
Mycoplasma pneumoniaInfection from someone with Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
Bacterial pneumoniaBacterial complications from upper respiratory infections like influenza.
Josh Matthews

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