Why You're More Likely to Get Sick in Fall: Unmasking the Seasonal Health Connection
I’m sure almost every Oregonian can agree: Autumn is undoubtedly one of Oregon’s most gorgeous seasons. Combine the rich changing colors of leaves with the emergence of the infamous pumpkin spice and the reappearance of our old friend, rain (eagerly welcomed by this point though). What’s not to love? But amidst the beauty of fall, there's also a less pleasant phenomenon at play: an increased susceptibility to illness. Have you ever wondered why it seems like you're more likely to get sick in the fall? Let's delve into the science behind this seasonal health conundrum.
- We Spend More Time Indoors
One of the most significant factors contributing to fall illnesses is the shift from spending the majority of our time outdoors during the summer to more indoor activities as the weather cools down. This increased indoor exposure brings us into closer contact with others, making it easier for viruses like the common cold and flu to spread.
- Decline in Vitamin D
As fall progresses, the days become shorter, and the amount of daylight we receive decreases. This reduction in sunlight exposure can lead to lower levels of vitamin D in our bodies. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting our immune system, so a deficiency may make us more vulnerable to infections.
- Weather Variability
Fall is a season of weather unpredictability. One day, it's warm and sunny, and the next, it's chilly and rainy (though in the Pacific Northwest, its more than likely the latter). These fluctuations can put stress on the body, making it harder for our immune systems to fend off illnesses. Additionally, the drying effect of cold air can lead to irritated nasal passages, making it easier for viruses to enter our respiratory systems.
- Back-to-School Effect
For families with school-aged children, fall marks the start of the school year. With students returning to crowded classrooms, there's a greater potential for the rapid spread of viruses. Children, in particular, can easily pick up and transmit illnesses to others.
- Seasonal Allergies
Fall is notorious for triggering allergies in many individuals. Ragweed, mold, and other allergens are prevalent during this season, and allergic reactions can weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infections.
- Holiday Stress
While fall brings joyous holidays like Thanksgiving, it can also bring increased stress. Stress can have a profound impact on our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness. The combination of holiday preparations and family gatherings can create a perfect storm for stress-related health issues.
- Lower Humidity
With the drop in temperature, humidity levels also tend to decrease. Low humidity can dry out the mucous membranes in our respiratory tract, making it easier for viruses to take hold.
- Viral Seasonality
Certain viruses, such as the flu, tend to be more active and contagious in the fall and winter months. This seasonal variation in viral activity contributes to the perception that we get sick more often during these times.
How to Stay Healthy in the Fall
While the changing seasons may pose challenges to our health, there are proactive steps we can take to minimize the risk of falling ill:
- Practice good hygiene: Regular handwashing and proper respiratory etiquette (covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing) can go a long way in preventing the spread of germs.
- Get a flu shot: Annual flu vaccinations are highly recommended to protect against the flu virus, which is particularly active in the fall and winter.
- Maintain a balanced diet: Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods can help support your immune system, especially during periods of decreased sunlight.
- Stay active: Regular physical activity can boost your immune system and help combat the effects of seasonal stress.
- Stay hydrated: Be mindful of drinking enough water, especially in drier, low-humidity conditions.
- Minimize stress: Incorporate stress-relief techniques into your routine, such as meditation, yoga, or simply taking time for yourself.
- Supplement comprehensively: Mt. Angel Vitamins makes a variety of supplements where essential illness-fighting nutrients abound! Quercetin Zinc, our best-selling product, was formulated specifically to fortify your body with the nutrients it needs to fight colds, flus, viruses and seasonal allergies. And Everyday Liquid Sunshine 2, our fast-absorbing liquid Vitamin D with D3 + K2, provides over 600% of your body’s daily vitamin D requirement in a single serving!
By understanding the factors that contribute to our increased susceptibility to illness during the fall season, and by taking proactive steps to support our immune systems, we can stay ahead of illnesses before they attack. Fall in love with the changing season this fall, don’t fall victim to it!