Does Fall Make You Sick?

The start of fall shows itself with the arrival of cooler weather, shorter daylight hours, yellowing leaves, Christmas shopping sales, and pumpkin-flavored everything. Fall also brings about the not-so-welcome sicknesses of the cooler season. These seasonal temperature changes create all kinds of health problems.

Allergies – More than fifty million Americans suffer from fall allergies. The culprits at this time of year are ragweed, tree pollen, and mold. Increasing sinus pressure could be a sign of a seasonal allergy or sinus infection if left untreated.

Respiratory Issues – The number of asthma attacks boom during this back-to-school time, partially because of the changing weather. At the end of summer, pollen, ragweed, and mold are very high and aggravate asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. Kids in the classroom are also exposed to more viruses that can trigger asthma attacks.

Cold & Flu – It is hard to think about flu season when the temperatures are still very warm outside. Flu season ranges from October through April. The best thing to do is have early preventative measures. Those who suffer from fall allergies and asthma should definitely get a flu shot because a chronically-stuffed nose can turn into a viral infection.

Ulcers – Peptic ulcers, sores in the gastrointestinal tract, spike during September and October (as well as January and February). Studies have yet to find the link between ulcers and autumn.

Arthritis – Changes in barometric pressure and drops in temperature can trigger joint pain.

Heart Risks – Every 2 degree temperature drop comes with an additional 200 heart attacks. Higher blood pressure is a side effect of cold weather. Having the flu causes inflammation within the body, destabilizing the arterial plaques which trigger heart attacks.

Raynaud’s Syndrome – Cooler temperatures bring the symptoms of Raynaud’s syndrome, when the blood flow to extremities is greatly reduced in cold environments.  People with this condition get severe pain, numbness, and white fingers/toes in cold air.

Seasonal Sadness – Seasonal affective disorder is a form of clinical depression where people dread the darker and colder days with the change in seasons. Anyone can notice how the light outside is not as bright and the daylight hours shrink with every passing day. SAD patients anticipate the gloominess of the cold, dark winter well before it actually begins. If your symptoms interfere with daily life functions, it is time to seek medical advice.

Weight Gain – A 2005 study found that people eat 86 more calories per day in fall than in spring. These eating patterns change, as well as exercise patterns, e.g. skipping the gym when it is cold outside. Cold weather can help you burn calories by burning stored body fat to stay warm.

Hauser, Annie. “9 Ways Fall Can Make You Sick.” Health. The Weather Channel, 7 Oct 2014. Web. 27 Sep 2015.

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