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Do rapidly changing temperatures actually make you sick?

How the weather makes us sick

It never fails. You walk outside in the middle of February and the temperature is in the 60s.  Fast forward just 24 hours and the temperatures are struggling to climb above freezing.  

True or false?

Does a drastic swing in temperatures make one sick?

According to a handful of studies recently published, the saying may be more of a warning than a statement. Temperatures themselves don't actually make one sick, or weaken the immune system, but they do create problems.

A study recently published by Yale University found that the common cold virus is better able to replicate itself in cooler environments inside the nose, than at core body temperatures.

So why do we get sick?

Well it has a lot to do with the thermodynamics of our body.  As it gets colder, our nose starts to produce more mucus to keep the inside of our nose warm and moist.  This is done to prevent our nose from drying up and bleeding.  During this process, we inhale and exhale, which releases water vapor.  This vapor condensates at the end of our nose, which is where we get the sniffles.

That explains one part of the process.  To explain how we get sick, you must first understand that as we constantly breathe in and out, we are breathing in mold spores, allergens and countless other things that make us sick.  These are eventually spread through our mucus to others when we sneeze.

It's for this reason that these tips are constantly stressed.  

- Wash hands frequently

- Keep hands away from mouth and eyes

- Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces.

There's another old-wives tale that needs to be addressed.  If you've every been told to bundle up before going out in the cold, studies show it might not be helpful, unless you also bundle up your mouth and nose, where viruses are easily spread.


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