People seem to come down with a cold or the flu when the season changes. Why does a new season bring coughs and sniffles with it? It actually seems like Viruses fell in love with the cool weather. But this dramatic temperature or season changes aren’t the direct cause of this illness, experts say.
It may seem like the same illness crops up every time the weather changes, but in fact, the perpetrator behind your cough varies throughout the year. When winter turns to spring and when summer turns to fall, cold viruses increases.
In 2008, researchers published a study in Nature Chemical Biology that found that at temperatures slightly above freezing, the virus maintains a gel-like outer coating that helps it stand up to the elements and travel from person to person. That coating begins to melt at around 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius). Since the coating needs to melt in your body for the virus to infect a living cell, but it also means the virus is less protected in the open air when the weather is warmer.
With both influenza and the common cold, once you’ve caught a certain strain once, you’re generally immune from it for the rest of the season.
Summer illnesses arise from a combination of several factors. People with seasonal allergies often feel congested and develop runny noses and itchy eyes when they’re near pollen, mold or grass. Their immune systems may go into overdrive as they react to these allergies, leaving them more vulnerable to viral contagions, says Dr. Benjamin Kaplan, an internal medicine physician at Orlando Health in Florida.
Dry air irritating your mucus membranes and more time spent inside putting you in contact with people who may be sick, which leads to illness. To protect yourself, make sure to wash your hands frequently, get plenty of sleep and exercise, and get a flu shot every year.
Got more things to share about people getting sick every time the season changes? Let us know in the comments below.