Do you find yourself getting frequent infections as soon as the winter chill starts to drop and the temperature rises? Many of us experience a number of illnesses during this time, like chronic cold, sore throat, stuffy nose, sinus pain, frequent sneezing and so on.
It’s normal to come down with a cold every now and then, but if you find yourself constantly sick due to sudden weather changes, this is the sign of a weakened immune system and it needs to be taken care of.
Not only does this affect your productivity for extended periods of time, this may also have negative consequences on your health in the future.
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Read on to find out why you develop infections during change in seasons, precautions, tips to keep your immune system at its best and certain herbal solutions that can help you with long-term immunity.
Reasons for Illnesses Due to Weather Changes
There are a number of reasons why people fall ill during the time of the year when seasons change. You may not be from a place with extremely cold temperatures. But frequent spikes and drops in weather over the course of weeks can be very confusing for our immune system.
Other than the general weather change, there are other specific causes for the increase in diseases during seasonal changes:
- Seasonal Allergies: People with hay fever or dust allergies tend to suffer a lot as spring sets in. certain weeds like ragweed or mugwort, or even the pollen from flowers can make come down with a sneezing fit.
- Surge in Rhinoviruses: Sometimes the weather feels just right – it’s not too warm, yet it’s still cold. This is the perfect weather condition for seasonal spikes in rhinoviruses. After all, it’s not the weather that makes you sick, it’s the germs.
- Change in Pressure: Hug barometric changes can be extremely uncomfortable for people with sinusitis as this can irritate your nasal passage and airways. Inflammation can be painful and this often leads to cold-like symptoms and an infectious stage due to a blocked nose.
- Change in Humidity and Temperature: A Yale study shows that temperature drops can stop our ability can also cause our body to let its guard down.
- Increased outdoor time: Once the chilly weather is gone, we start spending more time outdoors. This also means more contact with people and hence a higher chance to catch viruses. People also tend to plan outings and holidays once the weather looks hospitable, but this backfires as a breeding ground for all kinds of infections.
Your immune system works hard to protect you from these illnesses. However, a number of reasons like lack of nutrition and stronger variants of microbes make it difficult for our body to resist these infections. This makes it all the more important to take precautions against these during sudden weather changes.
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Precautions to Stay Safe from Infections During Weather Change
What can you do at an individual level to protect yourself when there is a surge of diseases due to change in seasons? In fact, there are a lot of measures and precautions you can take:
- Keep your nose warm: Immunobiology says that keeping the general area of the nose warm can greatly increase our immune defenses. This involves wrapping a warm cloth around your face even on slightly chilly days where it’s not too cold, yet not too hot.
- Regular exercise: In our blog on Monsoon Illnesses, we point out a general laziness to exercise when the weather is cold. However, springtime leaves us no such excuses except for the occasional cold. To protect against these, it is necessary that we maintain a habit of exercising regularly. 30-40 minutes everyday is ideal for any adult.
- Vitamin D supplements: The evidence is inconsistent for this one, but there is ample research that suggests the role of daily/weekly Vitamin D supplement consumption for the general influenza or common cold.
- Physical Distancing: This page from the COVID pandemic teaches us to keep our distance from sneezing and coughing individuals to lower the risk of catching the same diseases from them.
- Wear a mask: It’s not weird to wear a mask if you work in enclosed spaces where lots of your co-workers have caught the seasonal cold and cough. It provides an effective barrier against airborne viruses. Above all, if you are the one with the cold, it’ll be a responsible move to wear a mask to prevent further spread of seasonal illnesses.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth frequently: Especially when you have unwashed hands, it’s important that you do not touch these parts of your face since it is very easy for cold-causing viruses to enter your body this way.
General Tips to Develop a Strong Immune System
Sometimes, despite all the precautions we take, our lifestyle and body nature make it difficult to protect ourselves against these diseases due to weather change. It’s impossible to avoid going to work when you’re a teacher in a classroom full of students with a common cold.
In such situations, what you can do is take steps to boost your immune system.
- Balanced diet: It’s important to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Vegetables like broccoli and spinach, as well as citrus fruits, papaya and Kiwi are great for building immunity. Don’t forget to spice your foods with ginger, garlic and turmeric because they supplement your immune system too!
- Quit smoking and alcohol: Excessive alcohol usage as well as habits like smoking cigarettes or e-cigarettes can make it difficult for your body to protect itself against diseases. People who smoke are also at a greater risk of developing respiratory infections.
- Stay Hydrated: Approaching heat may make the weather drier in some places. Additionally, drinking water frequently keeps your throat and nasal cavities moist, not giving bacteria a chance to thrive in this environment.
- Rest up: Getting 7-8 hours of sleep daily is essential to keep your immune system at its best. This is the time your body repairs itself and not taking enough rest will surely jeopardise your body’s ability to resist diseases.
- Physical Activity: Stress and anxiety can also reduce your body’s ability to fight illness. Being physically active can be of great use by increasing the production of good hormones, reducing stress and helping sleep and feel better. By eating and exercising well, you also maintain a healthy weight which is very crucial for a healthy immune system.
- Get vaccinated: Check out at your nearest health provider for the latest shots against flu. Flu shots for prevention are always available at Primary Health Centres.
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Herbal Solutions in Ayurveda Against Illness Due to Changing Seasons
Ayurvedic and herbal alternatives are an excellent and healthy way to boost your immune system and fight illnesses due to the change in seasons.
There are certain herbs that are generally beneficial for our body to fight diseases when our environment is prone to infections:
- Tulsi: This wonder herb is a potent germicide that destroys germs as soon as they enter your body. Chewing a single tulsi leaf daily has been favoured by older generations for ages for this very reason.
- Neem: This leaf has been used as an immunity booster since time immemorial. Its antiviral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties keeps the body protected against a range of diseases.
- Ashwagandha: The adaptogenic qualities of Ashwagandha root helps reduce stress. Stress is responsible for weakening our immune system, and lowering stress with this herb can be extremely beneficial for long-term immunity.
- Ginger: A popular Indian remedy for cough and cold, ginger provides immediate relief from these symptoms. But the interesting fact is that it contains an antioxidant called gingerol which boosts the immune system, keeping you protected for the future.
- Fenugreek: Fenugreek infused water is a staple in Ayurveda to avoid flatulence, indigestion and other digestives issues. A concoction of Fenugreek water consumed on an empty stomach also boosts immunity by preventing water retention and inflammation in the body.
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You can also get a free, private consultation from certified Ayurvedic doctors on our website.