Preventing Fall Illness

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The fall season is a favorite time of year for many people because of the mild temperatures and beautiful foliage. Unfortunately for some, this period also brings a variety of common illnesses such as influenza. The change in temperature increases your likelihood of being infected with viruses or flare-ups of certain conditions like asthma.

The colder weather can also weaken the immune system. There’s no foolproof way of avoiding viral infections or controlling certain disorders, but precautions can be taken to decrease your risk and strengthen your immune system.


The fall season is one of the peak times for flu infections. The probability of coming down with the flu is much greater during the months of September through April. The colder temperatures drive most people indoors where they’re in closer contact with others. The virus is more easily transmitted under these conditions and can be deadly for the very young or old and people with compromised immune systems.

Symptoms of the flu include achy muscles, a high fever, chills, headache, coughing, sore throat, nasal congestion, sweating, fatigue, and weakness. The flu shot is a preventative measure to lessen occurrences of infection.

Common Cold

You can get a cold any time of the year, but it’s more common during colder months when you’re indoors sharing the same space with other people. Viruses that bring about the common cold are more easily spread and contracted in colder and dryer air. In addition, the fall season is the start of decreasing temperatures that cause weakened immune systems.

Children are especially susceptible to colds during this time because of their close proximity to other children in school or daycare centers. Cold germs can live on many surfaces and children touch just about everything they come in contact with.


The fall brings changes in the weather that can activate and worsen many allergic conditions. The windy and rainy conditions typical of this time of year can stir up and cause more pollen and similar materials to be released into the air. Many allergy sufferers can experience a reaction from spending very brief periods outdoors.

For example, you may inhale particles of allergic matter on your way to work and end up sneezing for the rest of the day. Allergic reactions often result in runny noses, itchy eyes, a sore throat and swelling in the facial area. The effects of certain allergies can last through the entire fall season and beyond.

Medications and staying indoors as much as possible can lessen symptoms and occurrences of certain conditions like asthma.

Raynaud Syndrome

Raynaud Syndrome may not be well known, but it’s a fairly common fall illness. The condition is characterized by swelling in the hands and face, insufficient blood flow, and coldness or numbness in the extremities. Raynaud Syndrome is more active during the fall season because cooler weather can affect the circulation of blood.

Symptoms are typically mild in the spring and summer months, a bit worse during the winter months, and peak during the fall season. The body has difficulty adapting to the change in rate of blood circulation, and this leads to the various symptoms as the body tries to adjust. People with heart disease suffer from similar manifestations during the fall season because of poor circulation.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is an illness that many refer to as the “winter blues.” Some sufferers can be affected by the disorder in the summer months, but it mainly occurs in the fall or winter months. SAD is a form of depression that is more prevalent during months with shorter days and less sunlight. It’s associated with abnormalities in circadian rhythms.

Sufferers can have good mental health for most of the year and then suffer from SAD during a certain season. SAD sufferers may sleep too much or feel drained for most of the day. SAD can also make you more susceptible to other illnesses. There are treatments available to lessen symptoms, such as light therapy.

Preventing Fall Illnesses

Although you can’t always escape the germs that cause illness, you can minimize your risk by doing a few simple tasks. Washing your hands often is probably the easiest way to lessen occurrences of viral illnesses, especially after direct contact like shaking hands. Bacteria and viruses are everywhere and much of our time is spent indoors during the months of the fall season.

Many hands will touch the surfaces in your school or workplace, so frequent handwashing is essential. Maintain your own personal space and keep your distance from anyone with symptoms of illness like coughing or sneezing. Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider as soon as you suspect illness; this may shorten i’s duration.

Finally, prepare for the fall season by stocking up on Vitamin C, eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting adequate rest, and dressing appropriately for the weather.

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