Why We Actually Get Sick As Cold Weather Surges
Contrary to what some people think, cold weather doesn’t make you sick. But it does create conditions that make it harder to stay well. If you tend to catch a cold or flu when there’s a chill in the air, you’re not alone. New research published in the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has found that cold temperatures actually lower immunity in the nose, making you more susceptible to viruses.1
Find out why cold weather lowers your immunity, behaviors that make matters worse, and what you can do to feel better faster.
Reasons Cold and Flu Viruses are More Common in the Winter
According to the research referenced above, the nose is one of the first points of contact between the outside world and inside the body. Typically, when virus particles make their way in, the cells lining the inside of your nasal cavities quickly activate to expel them by releasing billions of tiny sacs filled with fluid known as extracellular vesicles, or EVs. These powerful components of your nose’s built-in defense system attempt to kill the bacteria before they can start to cause a major infection in the body.
But when temperatures drop during the winter, this immune response becomes impaired by decreasing the amount of EVs by over 40 percent and by also reducing their quality. Even dropping the temperature by as little as 9 degrees Fahrenheit could lead to common cold and flu symptoms like stuffy and runny nose, sneezing, and postnasal drip.
Changes in Human Behavior
In addition to this biological response to cold air, there are also a number of behaviors we employ during winter that make matters worse. These include:
- Staying indoors for longer periods of time: To avoid the cold weather, you may spend longer periods of time indoors where it’s warm. The problem is this puts you in contact with more people in a smaller place where viruses can more easily jump from one person to another.
- Not drinking enough water: According to the American Heart Association, many people forget to drink water in the winter because they’re not as active.2 Not only could this have a negative effect on your kidneys and increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, but it can also make you more vulnerable to getting sick. Immune cells rely on water to help flush out toxins and keep your organs functioning at their optimum levels.
- Exercising less often: Another reason colds and flus thrive in the winter is because people tend to exercise less. Research shows that exercising can reduce the incidence, duration, severity, and impact of respiratory infections by 20-25 percent, but only if you do it every day.3
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Respiratory Viruses Thrive in Lower Temperatures
According to the Cleveland Clinic, another reason why you may get sick when the weather changes is because the sudden onslaught of cold, dry air results in cracks in your mucus membranes.4 These cracks allow those viruses to settle and access your body.
Seasonal allergies can also be an issue for those who suffer from winter allergies. Ragweed, mugwort, and sagebrush tend to trigger allergies in cooler weather. And indoor allergens like mold in pipes, pet allergens, and dust mite and cockroach allergens, may be more noticeable when you spend more time indoors.5
Protecting Your Nose & Its Defense System
Though COVID-19 mask mandates have expired, continuing to wear one can offer significant protection from viruses invading your nose, says rhinologist Dr. Benjamin Bleier, MD.6 It also helps to keep the nasal environment warm so your EVs can work more efficiently.
Studies also show that using a nasal spray with saline every day can help prevent nasal symptoms of the common cold such as a runny or blocked nose.7 By stimulating nasal secretions, nasal spray helps to ensure the virus is more likely to be washed out.
Other Ways to Prevent Getting Sick in Colder Weather
As the cold weather settles in, take the opportunity to build up your immune system as much as you can. In addition to wearing a mask, using nasal spray, staying hydrated, and exercising, follow these tips to prevent weather change sickness symptoms:
- Get adequate sleep: When you sleep, your body produces protective cytokines to fight off illness and keep your immunity strong. Be sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Manage your stress levels: Research shows that stress can reduce the number of natural killer cells or lymphocytes in the body, which are needed to fight viruses.8 Try to manage your stress by leading a healthy lifestyle, considering therapy, and practicing more self-care.
- Follow a nutritious diet: Whole foods like fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs, especially immune-boosting berries, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Follow a nutritious diet for immune health and try to steer clear of heavily processed foods, sugar, and too much caffeine.
- Practice healthy hygiene: Get in the habit of washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. Viruses can survive on hard, non-porous surfaces long after someone ill touches them. When you touch one of these surfaces and then touch your face, germs have easy access into your body.
If you do end up getting sick despite your best efforts, use a product like Brillia Health Cold-Flu Recovery to help you feel well again. Cold-Flu Recovery is a homeopathic, non-prescription medication that helps to fight off colds and flus gently and efficiently without harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. Consisting of targeted antibodies that support your body’s immune response, Cold-Flu Recovery swiftly and efficiently reduces congestion, runny and stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, and body aches without making you drowsy or causing an upset stomach. Cold-Flu Recovery is also clinically proven to shorten the duration of your illness. The benefit of this is twofold, not only are you sick for fewer days you are also minimizing your chances of catching a secondary infection.
If your symptoms also include a wet or dry cough, try Brillia Health’s Cough Control, which helps to calm the cough reflex and reduce the stress that coughing places on the body while reducing fluid build-up in the lungs. You can also take both products together if you have multiple symptoms to help you recover faster.
Find out more about how Brillia Health products work and explore more resources on boosting your immunity at the Brillia(nce) Resource Center.
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