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Do Fluctuating Temperatures Really Cause Us To Get Sick?

Flu Shot
Flu Shot, Getty Images

According to those that know at KATC’s Storm Team 3 Weather Lab today will be a warm day. The days that follow will find the temperatures falling into a more seasonable range. It seems we go from hot to cold and back again about three times a week this time of year. Are those temperature fluctuations the reason we come down with more colds and the flu this time of year?

The short answer is no they don’t. The more correct answer is they are a contributing factor to how we feel. While they might not be the cause the symptoms of changing temperatures can cause fluctuations in our immune system’s ability to protect us.

For example a change in temperature does not cause the flu. The flu virus is spread by someone who has the virus to another available host. Colder weather or sudden changes in weather might find us huddled closer together than usual. This contact is the reason for the season, the flu season that is. That is why hygiene is so important during the flu season months.

How come there seems to be more sickness in colder months than in the Summer? It is again due to our close proximity with others that is the real catalyst behind winter colds and the flu. If you think about summer in South Louisiana you want as much space between you and the next person as you can get. All that sweating that we do during the warm weather months also acts as a cleaner of sorts since the body has a broader mechanism for getting rid of unwanted substances through the skin.

While changes in temperature can certainly be felt in the bones, joints and in old injuries they are not a primary reason for us to get sick. Health officials do advise us that in these transitional weeks of fall we dress in layers. That way we can stay warm in the cool  mornings and not be miserable and get overheated in the warmer afternoons.

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