Lisa Kaplan Gordon September 29, 2015
For me, the first sign of autumn isn’t falling leaves; it’s a miserable head cold that turns into a sinus infection that ruins the first days of crisp, cool air. It turns out I’m not alone. Seasonal sniffles are a real thing.
Does Cold Give You a Cold?
Actually, a virus gives you a cold, not outside temperature. But dropping temperatures do force you inside more, and that’s where you’re most likely to come in contact with sneezing people spreading the cold virus. In fact, the warmer the temperature, the less likely you we are to catch colds, which could lead to bronchitis and pneumonia.
“For each one degree increase in temperature, there is a two percent decline in deaths from both influenza and pneumonia,” Dr. Michael Cirgliano told Philadelphia magazine.
When temperatures drop:
- The body’s natural defense mechanisms start to sputter. Cold temps can hinder circulation to your nose – a first responder to disease – and decrease the white blood cells that battle infection.
- Cold viruses replicate more easily in cool weather.
- Falling autumn leaves also stir up allergies to pollen and mold, which fly around the air as you rake. Allergy symptoms often are mistaken for colds.
How To Avoid Fall Sniffles
The same way you avoid winter, spring and summer sniffles.
- Wash hands frequently.
- If you suffer from allergies, wear a dust mask when raking leaves.
- Eat well, get plenty of sleep, and exercise to boost your immune system.
- Raw honey contains traces of pollen. Eat a few tablespoons a day to desensitize your body to pollen and reduce allergy symptoms.
- Some studies have shown that eating yogurt with probiotics can boost your immune system to fend off colds and to shorten their duration if you do catch one.
- Keep hard and soft surfaces clean, which will kill bacteria and viruses that land there.
Don’t Worry; Be Happy
Stress is a pox on immune systems, and autumn is often a stressful time when classes resume, prep for Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas begins and work projects gear up after everyone returns from summer vaycay. During autumn, try hard to reduce stress (but don’t stress about it).
- Exercise regularly.
- Make time for the things, activities and people that bring you joy. Joy is an antidote to stress.
- Pay attention to relaxing by taking a yoga class, drawing a hot bath or learning to meditate.
- Delegate to reduce large numbers of stress-causing tasks.