Can wildly fluctuating weather make us sick?


First, the mercury hit zero. But in a few days, it may hit the upper 60s.

It leads many people to speculate that a rash of illnesses will follow.

For years, people have claimed that extremes of temperatures can give you the flu, or even pneumonia.

We’ve had snow, wind and bitter cold. And now we’re seeing a meltdown with slush and puddles, and the possibility of spring-like weather later this week.

So will it give us the flu?

“It’s spread from person to person by respiratory droplets,” said Linda Mehl, RN, nursing director at the Belmont County Health Department. “But still, hand washing, getting the flu shot and the pneumonia shot and staying home when you’re sick and staying away from sick people, you know, having healthy eating habits and drinking water, those are all ways that you can prevent the flu and then pneumonia.”

Some people still cling to the theory that changes in temperature can bring on illness.

“A lot!” said Judy McCleary of Holloway. “It’s going to make people sick to go from freezing weather to warm.”

“I think it’s just germs,” said Kristy Littleton of Martins Ferry. “I know everyone’s sick but I think it’s just the germs because they don’t really go around when it’s not cold.”

“I think it’s true,” noted Jennifer Hickenbottom of Barnesville. “I mean I have a lot of sinus problems so I feel it when the weather is changing. So I think it just throws everything out of whack.”

At the health department, Linda Mehl said we should use good hygiene practices, but also common sense, if it starts to feel like Spring in January.

“Definitely don’t go out in shorts and get chilled and that type of thing,” Mehl advised. “That doesn’t help anything. But mainly these diseases are spread from person to person by coughing and not covering their coughs and not washing their hands.”

She also advises people to get a flu shot and a pneumonia shot.

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