why do we get colds when the weather changes

Dear Science,б
I'm so glad that it's finally fall Б I love this weather. But as usual, I've got a cold. It seems like everyone gets sick as the seasons change. Is this true? Does Бcatching a chillБ really make you sick, or is it something else? б Are you really more likely to get sick when the seasons change? Kinda sorta. If weБre talking about colds and other upper respiratory infections, doctors say infection rates areб fairly consistent throughout the year. But there are small upticks in cold and flu contagions in fall, winter and spring Б when the weather isб chillier. [ ] Allergies definitely do rear their ugly heads when the seasons shift, because different pollens and other allergens are wafting through the air. So as spring melts into summer, you might feel crummy more often because of all the flower pollen you come into contact with. As fall eases into winter, moldering leaves and dusty offices provide new allergy challenges. In addition, the dropping temperature proves friendlier for cold and. So during our two big seasonal shifts from hot to cold and back again, it seems like everyone has the sniffles. And while cold weather can't make you sick Б there's no such thing as catching a chill, so to speak Б cold weatherб can make you more likely to get sick б in several ways. Cold, dry air cuts down on the, leaving airways more susceptible to unpleasant microbial visitors. [ ] БColder temperatures also force you inside, which can increase disease transmission for a few reasons,Б explained Alexandra Sowa, an internist at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medicine.

БPeople are relegated to the indoors, where there tends to be dry heat and poor ventilation. Both of these have been postulated to increase disease transmission and susceptibility. Б So as fall creeps up and you have to pick between frigid, dry outdoor air and the stale, heated air of your home, your respiratory system suffers the consequences. But sniffling co-workers are an even greater concern. [ ] БClose quarters also mean more physical contact with others, so people are more apt to spread germs to each other,Б Sowa said. Meanwhile, that seasonal boost in allergies can irritate your lungs and nasal passages, making you even more susceptible to a cold or the flu, and making your symptoms seem even worse if you do get sick. Recurrent allergies, which could lead you to feel like you spend weeks or months at a time battling the same cold. As for the adage that you might catch your death standing out in the chilly air, Sowa said, temperature canБt exactly make us sick. But that exposure to colderб temperatures might make the body more susceptible toб certain illnesses. [ ] БIt is important to note that it isnБt weather that makes us sick, but the germs,Б Sowa said. БThis evidence supports the idea that we are more susceptible to getting sick from the germs in the colder weather. Б So, staying warm might not be the worst thing for your immune system.

Keeping your Б and treating seasonal allergies as they crop up, instead of just assuming you have an annoyingly persistent cold Б can also help keep your mucus in virus-blocking shape and help cold symptoms feel less debilitating if a virus comes your way. As you spend more time inside, be mindful of good hand-washing practices and avoid too much contact with sniffling co-workers. And donБt forget to get your flu shot! Have a question for Dear Science? Ask it here. б If you re feeling under the weather, you re not alone. Just when we re out of the woods and before the next flu season, cases of the common cold become more likely, for nearlyб. Rhinoviruses and cornoavirsues Б the two agents that typically cause the common cold Б replicate more easily in cool, but not too cold weather, Kittu Jindal Garg, M. D. , an internal medicine specialist with the Cleveland Clinic, told weather. com. A lot of the viruses that cause the common cold are shown to cause outbreaks more frequently in the early to late spring and early to late fall, she said. б (MORE: ) This is basically the same reason flu season occurs in the winter. The structure of the influenza virus allows it to replicate and spread best when air is cold and dry. So it s still the virus, not the cold air, that s causing you to fall ill. There have been a lot of studies done, but really there s still no evidence to show that it s the cold weather itself that s making us sick, Dr.

Garg said. It s sort of coincidental that certain viruses flare up this time of year. In the spring, seasonal sniffing can also come from another culprit: allergies. I see a lot of patients who come in and tell me that they ve had cold all spring; they ve been sick for three months, Dr. Garg said. Really they don t have a cold at all, but more so their allergies are flaring up. Those who know they have allergies need to take particular care in the spring. Not only can pollen spark miserable seasonal symptoms, but also allergies leave individuals more likely to catch a cold virus because their immune system is already under attack. б Unfortunately, supplements such asб echinacea,б vitamins E and C and zinc have not been shown to help prevent the common cold in double-blind clinical trials, the gold standard for scientific research. б What can help? Washing your hands. The cold virus can live on human skin for at least two hours, Dr. Garg said. б To dodge seasonal sickness, follow the same advice all spring that keeps you healthy year-round. Having a healthy lifestyle is known to reduce your risk of getting colds, Dr. Garg said. If you get a moderate level of exercise, and you have good sleep patterns Б you re sleeping well and sleeping enough Б and not under too much physical or emotional stress [you re less likely to get sick]. MORE ON WEATHER. COM: 26 Healthy Foods Swaps to Try Now

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