Why You Get Sick When The Seasons Change

seasonal health

Dominik QN

More reliable than the groundhog’s prediction of a longer winter, or the adage that April showers bring May flowers, is one deeply annoying, indisputable truth of the transition from one season to another: you often get sick.

As it turns out, it’s not only in your head, and it’s not just bad timing — it’s a fact of life. And no matter how many times you tell yourself that “it’s just allergies,” there’s a reason why, after a frigid winter, one of the first signs of spring is your own congestion.

So what’s going on? In fact, the temperature shifts that occur as the seasons change allow for certain viruses to flourish. Rhinovirus and coronavirus are the most common agents responsible for the common cold, and “interestingly, they flourish in cooler weather, such as what we have in spring and fall,” Dr. Benjamin Kaplan, a Florida-based physician of internal medicine, told Live Science.

Influenza, meanwhile, comes to life when the air is cold and dry, which is why the flu hits you each winter.

In the summer, seasonal allergies are typically at their worst, causing allergy sufferers’ immune systems to go into overdrive fighting things like pollen and mold. In turn, our immune systems become more susceptible to viruses.

Though you may not be able to completely evade these seasonal symptoms, there are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick. Basic hygiene goes a long way, especially when everyone else around you is already sick. “Practice good hand washing, get plenty of exercise, eat healthy and make sure to get at least six to eight hours of restorative sleep [a night],” says Dr. Kaplan.