Grand Strand doctors explain why more people get sick during colder weather

How to stay healthy during cold weather

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Sniffling, sneezing and coughing are some of the things we hate about the winter season.

But doctors say it’s not the cold that makes us sick, it’s more about our behavior during the cooler months. One example is the lack of ventilation and being indoors more when the weather changes.

Doctors along the Grand Strand said washing your hands is one of the biggest preventative measures you can take to decrease your chances of getting sick.

But if you start feeling the symptoms, Tideland’s Health family physician, Dr. William Epperson, said there’s a solution.

“If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t go out in the community," Epperson said. "If you have a cough it’s important to bring your arm up to your mouth, hand washing is very important.”

When it comes to keeping those germs from spreading at school, Horry County officials suggest if you think your child is sick, keep them at home.

“Certainly a cough, a fever greater than 105, there’s something brewing and you need to avoid extraneous activity and avoid being infectious to other people," Epperson said. "We don’t send kids to school who have a fever.”

Another big factor to help with not getting sick, dressing appropriately. Epperson said if you’re working outside, it’s important to layer up.

“Some of my workers told me they were going to go try to find some hunting overalls and things like that because it’s getting pretty chilly on them,” Houck Contracting LLC owner Randy Houck said.

Dr. Dennis Rhoades, with Doctors Care, said it’s important to consider how you dress because the change in body temperature can affect your immune system, which can lead to catching sicknesses.

“You don’t want to get too cold, you want to stay warm but then again you don’t want to overdress because whenever you’re body overheats the same thing happens your immune system doesn’t work as well,” Rhoades said.

Doctors also said some of those who suffer from asthma actually do better with cooler air because the air has less moisture. But things like being inside and exposure to dust can trigger an attack. Rhoades said an estimated 80% of asthma flare-ups deal with a bacterial or viral sinus infection. Epperson explained how it’s triggered.

“If you have emphysema, lung disease, or asthma the cold air that comes in can irate the airways, that airway irritation can lead to spasms, that can cause exacerbations with asthma," Epperson said. "Making wheezing occur, cough, shortness of breath which can lead to more serious complications.”

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