It never fails that as we start to say goodbye to summer and all the fun memories we had, we not only welcome fall, football and changes in leaves. We also welcome allergies, colds and the flu. It almost seems unfair that not only are we saying goodbye to the wonderful summer temperatures and welcoming the cooler temperatures that often cause pain, that we also have to be prepared for all the germs that come with the change in seasons. That being said there are always the argument that people & their germs make people sick, right?!? Not the change in temperatures. This time old argument will continue until the end of time. But it will be interesting to see what science has to say about it.
Research over the years has actually shows that the viruses that cause people to get sick with things like the common cold are spread more easily when the air conditions are more cool and dry. The cold air also causes your nasal passages to dry out more quickly and due to that the viruses are able to more easily able to adhere to the dry nasal passages and then they multiply, and quickly spread all through your body and make you feel sick. So technically it’s not the air temperature that makes you sick. But that cooler or colder air sure makes it easier to get sick.
As it gets cooler you will notice that people are more apt to stay inside thus putting them in closer contact with other people. Close proximity is NEVER a good idea, especially as it gets colder because of the higher rates of infections. When there are more people in closer spaces you are more likely to get sick and get sick more often. That’s once reason why if you have kiddos in daycare or school you will see a rise in colds during colder temps. Because they aren’t able to go outside (and of course because EVERYTHING goes in their little ones mouths). Rates of contagious illnesses are going to be found in higher rates in areas where people live in higher proximity to one another. So places like college dorms, nursing homes, prisons, or even hospitals. Simply because people are in close contact with a large number of other people and because germs spread more easily, even when it seems like ever precaution is taken to prevent from happening. In fact this is the main reason why you may see hospitals or nursing homes put visitor restrictions in place during cold and flu season preventing anyone under fourteen, or anyone who has symptoms of an cold or flu like illness from visiting patients in the facility.
People who deal with any chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, lupus, COPD or even asthma can be affected by changes in seasons and temperature. Significant changes in the air temperature can not only cause asthma flares as well as flares in pain. A person with underlying asthma or COPD may not be actually sick but as the seasons change and the temperatures drop but their symptoms may actually look like they have an infection due to inflammation and the weather changes.
Those with chronic pain will often be impacted by changes in temperature and or barometric pressure. If you have any kind of pain causing condition like arthritis, lupus or fibromyalgia chances are you will have increased pain when the weather starts getting cold. The more you pay attention to the weather and your health, the more you will be be prepared and be able to effectively handle your health properly.
No matter the cause of your symptoms, whether they are from a cold, the flu, or even seasonal allergies, there a many things you can do to prevent the spread of germs. There are ways you can prevent those germs from spreading and to keep you and your family as healthy as completely possible.
- The one that has beat into our heads since before we were even old enough to really understand what it means, is hand washing. Hand washing is the simplest way to prevent the spread of germs. One key point to remember about hand washing is to remember that you need to wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds under hot water. And the other thing people often don’t think about is that you should NEVER touch the handle to turn off the sink with your bare hand. Doing so negates washing your hands completely. So always use a paper towel to turn off the sink. Make sure that you are washing your hands before and after preparing food as well as before eating, after using the bathroom and changing a diaper. Also if your skin gets dry due to the colder temps and frequent washing, use a moisturizing lotion to avoid cracks in the skin.
- Do your best to try to avoid touching your face. It is hard but it is also the main way that we become ill, as germs enter our body through our eyes, mouth, or nose. When you have germs on your hands you can easily infect yourself when you touch your face with your hands. Try to do your best to teach your kids to try to avoid touching their faces when you are out in public or around those that you know are sick.
- If you can’t actually wash your hands with soap and water, the next best option is hand sanitizer. If you are out to eat, Shopping or anywhere really, you are always coming in contact with germs. So using hand sanitizer is a good quick option until you can get to a sink and wash with soap and water!
Doing all of these things consistently will allow your body to fight off infections. Your immune system won’t work as well as it needs to if your body isn’t healthy. There’s no guarantee that you won’t get sick if you take care of your body, but chances are good it will happen a lot less often if you do your best to take care of your body.
So what can you do about your chronic Illness to prevent your condition from getting any worse, or from having a flare?!? Well, there are several things. First of all, continue with whatever you do as maintenance for your condition. Continuing that plan of care help minimize the effects you experience when the weather changes do happen. Next, you should get a flu shot. I realize that is controversial and not all people will agree with me on that. But research shows that the vaccine won’t protect a person from every respiratory illness, but it will protect you and those around you from getting the flu. Even if you aren’t in a HIGH-risk group the flu is still very highly contagious and you could potentially pass it on before you even feel like or know you are sick.
While I LOVE fall and just about all things it brings, the colder weather is not really something I enjoy. Isn’t it nice to know that there is a link between the colder weather and your increased pain and cold symptoms? While the colder weather may not have directly caused the increase in symptoms it is nice to know that there is a reason. While fall brings a lot of good things like all things pumpkin, football, and the ability to wear sweatshirts. It also is the beginning of cold and flu season. So remember to always wash your hands, carry your hand sanitizer, and get the flu shot!! Do your best to keep you and your family healthy through the fall so you can enjoy all the good things.