Identifying Change of Season Sickness

Have you ever noticed that when the seasons change, scores of people come down with a cold or tickly cough?

It isn’t all in your imagination, in fact, experts are reporting that shifts in temperature allow certain groups of virus to flourish. We investigate the causes, symptoms and preventatives for the ‘change of season sickness’.

According to, Dr. Benjamin Kaplan, an internal-medicine physician at Orlando Health in Florida, these viruses ‘flourish in cooler weather, such as what we have in spring and fall’. Kaplan stipulates that cool (rather than cold) conditions are best for viruses such as rhinovirus and coronavirus to spread. 

Even the smallest drops in temperature allow some germs to thrive. This, in turn, leads to an outbreak of illness. However, another cause of illness during this time of year is allergies. Quite frequently, people suffering from allergen reactions will confuse their symptoms with a seasonal cold.

So how can one accurately distinguish between the two? Both cases involve similar symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, coughing and tickly throat. ‘It’s the duration [length] and chronicity [frequency] of symptoms that might help tell the difference,’ Dr. Rima Rachid, director of allergen immunotherapy at Boston Children’s Hospital explains.

A typical cold tends to last for approximately 14 days, while allergy symptoms, on the other hand, last much longer. An allergic reaction is likely to be recurring, depending on the trigger. Another way of identifying change of season sickness is to evaluate the colour of nasal discharge. If you notice that yours is yellow or green in colour, this is an indication of an infection or cold. Allergies usually result in a clear nasal secretion. Finally, another failsafe way of categorising your sickness is the presence of fever or muscle aches. Allergy-sparked illnesses such as hay fever will not produce such an effect.

Preventing change in season sickness

Although the change in temperature usually makes us want stay indoors, try to stay active. Maintaining your exercise regime and getting enough restorative sleep will ensure your immune system keeps doing its job. Some people suggest the use of vitamin supplements during seasonal changes. Although this can’t hurt, there is no substantial evidence proving that this will ward off colds and the flu.

The sudden move into a new season can often mean that people are inappropriately dressed. Wrap up warmer and consider changing your wardrobe over to a more insulating set of attire once autumn comes around. It may not be winter yet, but our bodies still need protection from the elements. Being stringent with hygiene practices is another effective way to stay cold-free. Washing hands and bringing hand sanitiser with you is recommended.

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