Yes, temperature swings can make you feel bad

Weather doesn't make you sick in the same way viruses and bacteria do, but a few environmental factors could have you feeling unwell.

WASHINGTON — The DMV is in the midst of a weather rollercoaster, with spring-like temperatures one day, and a cold snap the next. These wild temperature swings are hard to plan for, but could they lead to you feeling sick, too?


Can rapidly changes temperatures cause you to feel sick?



 Yes, temperature swings can have a real impact on how you feel. 


We’ve been telling you all week that following Thursday’s record-breaking heat, we’re due for a cold snap, and now comes a common complaint and side-effect of temperature whiplash: getting sick.

Our experts agree, temperatures don’t make you sick in the same way viruses and bacteria do, but a few environmental factors could have you feeling unwell in the coming days, like seasonal allergies, dry air, and changing atmospheric pressure.

“The biggest concern is going to be for people who have any sort of a respiratory problem, asthma, obstructive lung disease, COPD,” said Dr. Kathryn Yamamoto with Patient First Urgent Care.

She says wind, dust, and pollen can be irritating even for people without allergies.

The Mayo Clinic explains sudden changes in weather can also impact blood pressure, when blood vessels react to sudden changes in humidity, pressure, wind, and temperature–especially among people age 65 and older. 

“There is some sense of when there pressure change, you feel different,” said Dr. Yamamoto.

Research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine – and cited by the National Institutes of Health– shows people who suffer from migraines or are prone to sinus headaches may feel the pain caused by changes in atmospheric pressure.

The Mayo and Cleveland Clinics both further recommend avoiding other known triggers during temperature fluctuations. 

Dr. Yamamoto says people with joint and bone issues might also feel the pinch, especially when temps plunge from warm to cool.

“Rapid changes like this are a little rough," she said.

To fend off feeling icky, the experts recommend drinking lots of water, which helps blood flow and overall hydration, taking over the counter headache and allergy pills as needed, and dressing for the weather.

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