Can You Get Sick From Exposure to Cold Weather?


Flu season is approaching and students at UC Merced are sneezing and coughing around campus. Some students have received the flu shot and have avoided the illness going around. Others avoid the cold weather that is slowly approaching to ward off illness. This brings up the question: can people get sick from being out in the cold?

The answer is no, cold weather is not the reason why people get sick. It is the exposure to bacteria and viruses that make people sick. There is a tendency to stay inside during Fall and Winter time that puts people in closer contact that may be carrying germs. Thus, leading to increased chances of being exposed to viruses from one another.  

David Robson, author at BBC, explained, “We spend more time indoors in the winter, meaning that we’re in closer contact with other people who may be carrying germs. We’re more likely to take public transport, for instance – and as we’re pressed against spluttering commuters, misting up the windows with their coughs and sneezes, it’s easy to see how this could send us over a tipping point that allows flu to spread through a population.”

In an article published by Harvard Medical School, it is explained that during Fall and Winter season, humans tend to receive less Vitamin D due to lack of  exposure from the sun. The human body’s immune system is powered by Vitamin D, but once the source decreases, the immune system becomes more vulnerable to infection.

Even though it isn’t possible to be sick after exposure to cold weather, the human body will be put at risk for an influenza attack. To avoid coming down with the flu this year, it is advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to receive flu shots. As explained by CDC, “This process works as follows: a person infected with a particular flu virus develops antibody against that virus. As antigenic changes accumulate, the antibodies created against the older viruses no longer recognize the “newer” virus, and the person can get sick again. Genetic changes that result in a virus with different antigenic properties is the main reason why people can get the flu more than one time. This is also why the flu vaccine imgrescomposition must be reviewed each year, and updated as needed to keep up with evolving viruses.” In order to combat this, flu shots are given every year to all UC Merced students every Wednesday at SAAC 217 from 10am to 2pm to prevent students from getting sick.


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