As many as 5 million people get the flu when the temperature drops. You just accept that it’s flu season. Influenza carries away a quarter million people each year, so you eat more fruit and veg, you take vitamins, and you disinfect every time you had to use your hands.
Winter is a breeding ground for germs. Until recently, this is what was widely believed. But research has now discovered exactly how we all fall down so easily to flu every year.
We’re in closer contact during the cold months. This is how the virus easily spreads.
Our nostrils’ blood vessels constrict to stop us losing heat, and this stops the white blood cells from doing their jobs of defending us, hence, viruses slip through as we breathe.
We have so much lesser Vitamin D intake during the short, overcast days of winter, making us weaker to infection.
Those are all sound explanations for the spread of disease, but they don’t explain the annual comeback of the flu during winter.
Knowledge and understanding will help you defend yourself, your family and friends, now that research has found the exact reason behind the flu in winter.
The virus changes so fast. You build antibodies for it, but the next strain in the next year is no longer recognizable– you’re no longer immune. You can get new flu shots for every new strain, but very few actually bothers.
The air is drier. According to thermodynamics, cold air has less water vapor. If it has much, it will reach dew point and become rain. But winter is all crisp and cold weather. No humidity. The weather may seem wet, but the air is dry, losing moisture. The flu virus flourishes in this dry air.
That’s right– the virus is living and multiplying in the crisp winter air we love so much.
A study and comparison of 30 years’ worth of climate records and health records show that flu epidemics almost always followed a drop in humidity. (Jeffrey Shaman at Columbia University and colleagues).
Every cough and sneeze releases droplets into the air. In moist air, these simply get heavier and drop to the floor. In dry air, these droplets break into tinier and tinier pieces and remain afloat in the air for hours and days until you inhale or ingest it, and it lodges in the cells of your throat (That explains why your flu always begins with a sore throat).
The water vapor in moist air also disarms the flu virus’s weaponry by altering the salt and acidity components. It can no longer attack you. In dry air, the virus remains intact.
In warmer, tropical climates, viruses settle on surfaces, on everything touched. In the Northern Hemisphere, they linger in the air. In airplanes, the air-conditioning filters the germs before it can spread.
In addition to good nutrition and good hygiene, get vaccinated. And now that you know how exactly the very air we breathe becomes accomplice to the flu virus in the winter, run a humidifier at home and in your office, and talk to school to use one.