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Does Changing Weather Cause Sickness?

Written by Courteney

Posted on March 1, 2016 at 7:56 pm

 

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We’ve all heard the old adage that changing weather brings on sickness, but is there truth to this age-old assertion? For some time, the science community said ‘no’, but recent thinking is leaning more towards ‘kind-of’. While there are medical professionals who maintain the rise in colds and infections during seasonal transitions is purely coincidental, there seem to be more facts supporting the idea that temperature changes can contribute to illness, especially for particular demographics. The reasoning behind this new thinking isn’t straightforward, there are many factors that work in accordance to cause sickness to rise as the seasons blend.

Coinciding Factors

Some people think they are experiencing a cold that just won’t leave, or as people dubbed it years ago “The spring flu” but they are most likely experiencing allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever), allergies brought on by airborne particles such as pollen from plants and trees that start budding in the spring. The Weather Channel claims another factor that makes it appear as though the changing weather causes sickness is that the structure of cold viruses allows them to breed and spread easily in the cold dry air of the beginning of spring. So it may still be viruses, not the weather itself, that causes cold-like symptoms in so many people around this time of year.

Weather Can Confuse Immune Systems

While weather in itself may not cause sickness, fluctuating mercury levels certainly play a role in how the body functions. Our bodies grow accustomed to whatever the current season and temperature is, so when that changes (sometimes drastically) as winter turns into spring our bodies are forced to re-adapt to the new weather and changes in atmospheric pressure. This can cause confusion within the immune system. It has a distracting effect, so while our front line of bodily defence is busy trying to reconfigure based on weather changes, pre-existing conditions may flare up or new germs may set in as our defenses glitch-out.

Healthy Versus Vulnerable

As with many contagious illnesses, people who fall into the immunocompromised category are often the most affected demographic when winter recedes and spring shows its face. Dr Adham Alameddin, medical director of Synergy Integrated Medical Clinic in Dubai says “The community is divided into two groups – those who are vulnerable to illness and those who are healthy. For the healthy sector, as long as they continue to eat a balanced diet, take a lot of exercise and drink plenty of fluids, their body will be able to cope with the dramatic onset of heat. For those who fall into the vulnerable category – young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those suffering from chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or cancer – the risk of feeling unwell is much higher.”

How to Prevent the Season-Based Sickies

If you fall ill every spring and suspect allergies may be at play, ask your doctor for an allergy test to see if hay fever may indeed be the culprit. Or, if you are a known hay fever sufferer or a severe asthmatic, be sure to contact your doctor or allergist to get a medication plan in place or adjust your current one if necessary, and to find out how to avoid getting hit too hard by your allergies when pollen starts up. If you are immunocompromised and contract a cold or illness, be sure to contact your doctor or one of our qualified physicians at DocChatto make sure you won’t get in over your head trying to fight off the bug. For the general non-allergenic public, be sure to get plenty of rest and quit burning the candle at both ends which will help keep your immune system strong. You should also eat well and exercise regularly, and check in with your body intermittently to make sure you are still in tip top shape.

 

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