See a big jump or drop in temperatures in the weather forecast, and you probably grumble about “Everyone’s going to get sick.” But can weather changes really make you sick?
The seasonal change from warm to cold weather and the drastic spikes or drops in temperature over a day or two can make you question can weather changes cause illness.
To get some answers, we talked to Franciscan family medicine doctor Derek Bast, DO, to get the truth about whether the weather changing can really make you sick.
Dr. Bast, who practices at Franciscan Physician Network CityWay Family Medicine in downtown Indianapolis, explains why you may get sick when the weather changes and common health conditions that can be affected by seasonal changes.
Can You Get Sick From Weather Changes?
Did your grandma tell you that being out in cold weather would give you pneumonia? There’s a grain of truth to it.
For some people, a change in weather or onset of fall and weather seem to trigger colds, seasonal allergies or other respiratory illnesses.
“Certain bacteria and viruses thrive in different types of weather,” Dr. Bast said. “A swift change in the weather can result in a sudden increase in infections caused by those agents.”
Why Does The Weather Changing Affect Sinuses?
“Drier air can lead to stuffy sinuses, which increases your risk of a sinus infections, bronchitis, or even pneumonia,” Bast said.
“A change in weather can be a nightmare for people with allergies,” Bast said. “Different types of allergens are present in the air from the environment, but also as a direct result of our response to weather changes. Getting clothes out of storage, turning on the furnace/fireplace for the first time that year, opening the windows, all these things can significantly affect allergies.”
Is Joint And Muscle Pain Tied To Weather Changes?
Does your knee seem to forecast a change in weather? You may not be alone.
“Joint and muscle pain is another common concern with weather changes,” Bast said. “This makes sense too because we know our bodies get used to certain environments. People from Wisconsin wear shorts in the winter because their bodies are used to the cold. When there is a sudden change in temperature, barometric pressure or moisture in the air, it can cause pain and discomfort.”
While joint aches and pains may feel common with wet or cold weather, seasonal changes can impact our muscles in an unexpected way.
“We also tend to increase our activity level during certain weather, which can lead to muscle strains and injuries,” Bast said, adding that you should warm up and condition your body appropriately. “Don’t get too excited that flag football season has rolled around again and tear a muscle when you haven’t stretched.”
How Can I Keep From Getting Sick When The Weather Changes?
Weather changes doesn’t mean you’re doomed to aches, pains or the sniffles.
“We can take precautions to prevent adverse health effects from weather changes,” Bast said. “As the weather gets colder make sure you are washing your hands appropriately, wear a mask in crowded spaces, and take your allergy medication.”