Flu cases are up, along with stomach bugs and upper respiratory infections, so we stopped by the Memorial/LSUHSC clinic to ask family medicine resident, Dr. Michael Robinson, if the weather has anything to do with all of these sicknesses.
"In a sense, yes," said Dr. Robinson. "The colder weather causes people to go inside and be in closer proximity to each other, but as far as just becoming sick, the weather doesn't affect it."
That means germs are spreading more indoors when the weather is less inviting outdoors.
Still, some viruses replicate more easily in cooler weather, like the agents causing the common cold and influenza, that spreads best when the air is cold and dry.
"They replicate better in the colder air, but it's hard to say here," said Dr. Robinson, "because we have one extreme to the other with our weather and people are still getting sick."
Dr. Robinson says as we enter more of a spring-like pattern, allergy sufferers are at a higher risk for upper respiratory infections, because their immune system is already under attack.
"Those can be exacerbated when you do have heavy weather come through with a lot of rain," he said. "They are more at risk for infection because of their illness."
Allergies can be kept at bay with nasal steroid sprays and antihistamines. But for those nasty viruses, Dr. Robinson says you can take the weather out of the equation and just focus on preventative care.
"The important thing is hand hygiene and also covering your cough," said Dr. Robinson. "These are the things that prevent the illness, whether or not the humidity makes it better or worse, it's still up to each one of us to prevent illness."
You are less likely to get sick if you have a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and get enough sleep.
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