Can Cold Weather Make You Sick?

Since cold and flu season occurs when the temperatures drop in the late fall and winter, many people mistakenly think that cold weather can make you sick. The truth is this is just an old wives' tale passed on through mothers and grandmothers across the generations.

Modern science now shows that colds and flu are due to viruses that spread from person to person. The seasonal flu is caused by the influenza virus that spreads across the United States from October to April.

There are more than 200 different viruses that cause cold- and flu-like symptoms.

In addition to rhinovirus, which accounts for more than half of all colds each year and has more than 150 different circulating strains at any given time, coronavirus, enterovirus, parainfluenza, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can all cause varying degrees of congestion, fever, cough, and body aches.

Why We Get Sick When It's Cold Outside

While the cold weather does not directly make us sick, we tend to catch more viruses in the winter because we spend more time indoors in close contact with others. Viruses spread more easily in close quarters, like schools and crowded shopping centers, making the likelihood of passing germs is much higher.

There is also evidence now that viruses spread more easily through the dry air. When it is cold outside, the air is drier both outdoors and inside (due to heating), which may make it easier for germs to pass from one person to another. It is not the cold air that causes the cold, but cold, dry air makes it easier for viruses to spread.

Does Rain Contribute to Colds and Flu?

In tropical areas where it does not get cold, the common cold and flu season generally occurs during the rainy season. But again, these illnesses are not caused by the weather. They are just more prevalent because people spend more time indoors when it's raining and come in closer contact with others than during the dry season.

Protection From Cold and Flu

The most important thing to remember during cold and flu season is to protect yourself against these germs when you are around other people. Viruses are passed by contact between people, so be sure to wash your hands often, get your yearly flu vaccine, take care of your body, and avoid people that you know are sick. Try to avoid touching your face as much as possible, since that is how most respiratory germs enter your body. 

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Article Sources

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