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10 Cold Facts About Winter Ills

10 Cold Facts About Winter Ills


  • 1. Cold Causes Colds: Temperature can alter airway cells’ ability to mount an innate immune response against rhinovirus, the common cold virus. Mechanisms the innate immune system uses to protect cells against the virus are effective at core body temperature but greatly diminished when it’s slightly cooler.

  • 2. Flu Season Myth-busters: Myth: Patients can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat. Truth: The only way to catch the flu is exposure to the influenza virus. Myth: Healthy persons don’t need to be vaccinated. Truth: Anyone can benefit from being vaccinated. Myth: The flu can be caught from the vaccine. Truth: The vaccine is made from an inactivated virus that can’t transmit infection.

  • 3. Cold Weather Workouts Induce Asthma, Coughing: Exercising in cold, dry air is a stimulus for exercise-induced asthma. Symptoms—eg, coughing, tightness in the chest, and wheezing—generally begin within 5 to 20 minutes after starting physical activity and typically end after stopping.

  • 4. Pediatric Pneumonia Most Often Viral: Most cases of radiology-proven pneumonia were identified as single viral infections, predominantly respiratory syncytial virus, with a much lower proportion of bacterial causes. The findings may help reduce antibiotics overuse in pediatric pneumonia.

  • 5. Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infection Linked to Cold: Acute URTI incidence is directly correlated with air temperature. Cold’s effects: (1) chilling of nose, URT by breathing cold air, (2) chilling of mouth, upper digestive tract by ingestion of cold drinks, food, (3) acute chilling of body surface, (4) chilling of body as a whole with a fall in body temperature.

  • 6. Weather Dampens Physical Activity in Patients with COPD: Researchers theorized information about how climate affects physical activity in patients with COPD might be valuable in determining when physical activity should be encouraged. They found inactivity of COPD patients is greatest on cold, wet, and overcast days.

  • 7. “Winter Vomiting Bug” Bites This Time of Year: Common norovirus symptoms are suddenly feeling sick, projectile vomiting, and watery diarrhea. Some patients also have a slight fever, headaches, painful stomach cramps, and aching limbs. The symptoms appear 1 or 2 days after infection and typically last for 2 or 3 days. Norovirus is more common in winter, but patients can catch it at any time of the year

  • 8. Raynaud Is a Cold-weather Phenomenon: The characteristic reduced blood flow to the extremities triggered by exposure to cold temperatures can lead to finger swelling, color changes, numbness, pain, skin ulcers, and gangrene on the fingers and toes. Symptons of primary Raynaud often appear at a younger age; symptoms of secondary disease often first appear at later ages.

  • 9. 'Tis the Season for Chilblains: A localized form of vasculitis, chilblains (aka, pernio) most often affect children and older persons in damp, temperate climates. In children, they may recur each winter for a few years and then clear up. In older patients, they tend to get worse every year unless precipitating factors are avoided.

  • 10. Hypothermia Hurts the Heart: Symptoms of hypothermia include poor coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, shivering, sleepiness. Persons with coronary heart disease often experience angina pectoris when they’re in cold weather. Children and older patients are at particular risk. Older patients also may have less subcutaneous fat and a diminished ability to sense temperature.

Ask a patient what are the most worrisome winter conditions and you’ll probably hear cold, snow, and ice.

Ask a physician and the answer is more likely to be colds, flu, and cough.

Numerous disorders occur more frequently or with more severe symptoms in the winter months. Read on for some cold facts about 10 common winter ills.

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