It’s no secret that the flu has always gotten worse during this time of year, but why does that happen? And why are other viruses more common, too?
Our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team provides some helpful answers below, so keep reading!
What Causes an Uptick in Virus Cases?
While it’s true that viruses cause more damage during the winter months, this doesn’t mean that they go away when it gets warmer. Viruses are detected year-round in the U.S., but the CDC has observed that the flu peaks between December and March—the same peak as other viruses, including the common cold and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).
One reason for an uptick in virus cases this time of year is due to the cold weather itself. While cold weather doesn’t make more viruses, it causes our bodies to have a tougher time fighting off viruses and other illnesses, due to the fact that cold weather hinders our ability to remove mucus from our noses, allowing a virus to infiltrate the body. We’ve listed a few other reasons viruses tend to cause damage in the winter below.
Additional Causes of More Winter Viral Activity
- Spending more time indoors. During the winter, people spend more time indoors with the windows shut, making them more likely to breathe the same air as an infectious person.
- Colder, drier climates. The flu and COVID-19 viruses may be able to infect more people in colder, drier settings because they can survive longer.
- Less sunlight and shorter days. We acquire less vitamin D and melatonin when we get less sunlight, which are both important in battling viruses and illnesses.
What Can I Do to Stay Healthy This Winter?
The best thing you can do is to be vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19. The flu and COVID-19 are the two illnesses that are now posing the greatest threat in the winter, so if you haven’t already, get vaccinated.
Additional ways to stay healthy are listed below.
Additional Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter
- Put on a mask. Masks are a simple way to protect yourself and others from the virus by preventing respiratory droplets from spreading.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Frequent handwashing helps protect against a variety of illnesses, including the flu and COVID-19.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs are less likely to enter your body if you keep your hands away from your face.
- Avoid those who are sick.
We hope you stay healthy this winter! If you begin to feel ill, don’t hesitate to visit our AFC center today.