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Posted on January 16, 2013 by

Winter Illness Not Caused By Cold Weather

Everyone seems to get sick during the winter. Coughs, colds, flu, and other winter illness abound this time of year and last until spring when allergy season takes over. Why is this? Is there something intrinsic these three months that causes disease?

The “common knowledge” is that cold weather depresses the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to disease. In reality, there is no evidence to suggest that the cold weather alone is responsible for the rise in illness. While the outer temperature of the body can vary based on the how cold it is, the internal, core temperature is kept relatively stable through the body’s regulatory mechanisms. Only extreme situations (e.g. hypothermia, heat stroke, fever) can change that core temperature.

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Photo credit, Getty Images

The answer to why we get sick in the winter is far simpler. When it gets cold outside, people stay indoors. Close quarters and recycled air provide a greater contact time for diseases. Families often visit each other during the holiday season; and different groups of people from different regions come together and share their local strains of illness. A rhinovirus (the virus which causes the common cold) making its rounds through an office in Milwaukee can travel home to Phoenix on a plane with someone, infect that person’s niece, and then get passed on to the rest of her 3rd grade class while they stay inside for recess due to cold weather. People are disease vectors, and when we are brought together or confined indoors, we swap diseases.

People who are sick can spread the bacteria (or virus if it’s the flu) to others up to six feet away by coughing, sneezing or spitting while talking. These microscopic droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people within proximity, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A person can also get sick by touching an object that has the bug on it then touching their own mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others up to 24 hours before symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days even if they show signs of recovery.

While the risk of infection increases during the coming winter months, there are certain basic hygienic practices that can reduce your risk of getting sick or of spreading a disease from others. Also, please increase your good hygiene practices if you show signs of these symptoms. For more information about Preparis, contact us directly or give us a call at 404.662.2950. Also, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for daily updates on industry news and events.

About Marlia Fontaine-Weisse

Marlia Fontaine-Weisse is the Content Manager for Preparis.

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