The sudden dip in temperatures during the fall season also comes with its share of common illnesses.
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In this article:
- The Common Cold
- Raynaud’s Phenomenon
- Cold Sores
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Noroviral Infection
11 Common Illnesses in Fall and How to Avoid and Treat Them
Otherwise known as the flu, influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness. It is brought about by the influenza virus, which settles and infects the respiratory system: nose, throat, and lungs.
The colder temperatures of fall are often the best times for viruses to flourish, resulting in autumn-winter being called the flu season months. This is because cold weather can suppress the immune system, putting especially vulnerable people like children or the elderly at risk.
Symptoms of influenza include high fevers, nasal congestion, dry coughs, fatigue, and chills. While most cases of influenza can resolve on their own, people with weak immune systems may develop complications like pneumonia and bronchitis and are recommended to see a doctor or take antiviral drugs.
Influenza is largely avoided by taking an annual flu shot and keeping the immune system strong and healthy.
Bronchiolitis is another viral infection common among children under the age of two years old. It is characterized by swelling and the buildup of mucus in the smallest air passages in the lungs.
It starts with symptoms that are similar to getting a cold. But as the illness progresses, it can cause wheezing, coughing, and breathing difficulty.
Bronchiolitis is a viral illness which spreads quickly from one person to another, so the best way to prevent it is with frequent hand washing. Wearing face masks is also a good option.
Bronchiolitis is often easily resolvable and an infected child can usually recover at home. Infected individuals can benefit by being held in a clean and warm area, away from other people.
3. The Common Cold
The common cold is especially rampant from September to December, also known as cold and flu months or the season with dropping temperatures. Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, and a sore throat.
The common cold can infect anyone at any time of the year. But individuals are more vulnerable in colder months thanks to lowered immune systems, not to mention the virus is easily transmitted through touch.
While there are no known cures for the common cold, medications can be taken to relieve symptoms. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest is always a good way to weather out the virus until full recovery.
During the fall season, many trees and plants start shedding. This means a lot of dander, pollen, mold, and allergens floating around, resulting in fall allergies.
Allergy symptoms include a runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, coughing, and sneezing. While there are already a plethora of allergy medications available, symptoms can become extreme and distressing.
Keeping your home and immediate surroundings and pets clean and tidy is best to avoid contact with allergens. Regular vacuuming, for example, is an excellent way of eliminating allergens that can get stuck in clothes and carpeting.
Folk knowledge suggests painful bones and joints are a telling sign of weather changes. Anecdotal accounts suggest people do experience flares in arthritis when temperatures start getting colder.
Studies suggest there are correlations between arthritic flares and changes in the weather. Symptoms of arthritis include pain and swelling of the joints in the knees, arms, elbows, and feet.
Avoid arthritis flares by staying inside where it’s warm and toasty. Wrapping up joints in thermal wear, warmer layers, or using a heating pad can also offer some relief.
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Also called a sinus infection, sinusitis is the inflammation of the nasal sinuses. It is usually the result of poor mucus drainage due to allergies, infections, colds, and nasal structure issues.
Symptoms of sinusitis include thick nasal discharge, facial pain, and headaches.
Treatments for sinusitis include using decongestants and saline drips. Your doctor may also recommend antibiotics or steroids to reduce inflammation.
Sinusitis can be avoided by frequent hand washing to prevent the transfer of viruses and staying away from known allergens and triggers.
7. Raynaud’s Phenomenon
What Is Raynaud’s Phenomenon? A condition wherein the spasming of arteries results in a reduction of blood flow to extremities like fingertips and hands
This condition is often triggered by sudden cold weather, which is common in the shift to fall season.
Symptoms of Raynaud’s phenomenon include extreme cold in toes and fingers, extreme color changes, and a prickling sensation when warmed. It usually occurs when arteries in the fingers and toes spasm upon exposure to extreme cold.
Complications which may arise from this condition can be tissue damage, skin ulcers, or gangrene. Avoid Raynaud’s phenomenon by keeping warm during cold weather, and wearing the appropriate socks and gloves to keep cold air away from your hands and feet.
8. Cold Sores
Many factors can contribute to a cold sore outbreak such as cold, dry weather that dries out lips, warm and dry air that encourages the virus to spread. Less vitamin D in the body due to the reduced sunlight, as well as weaker immunity in the cold weather can also be contributing factors.
Cold sores often clear out on their own. They can be avoided by keeping away from people with cold sores, not sharing items with them, and constantly cleaning your hands.
9. Seasonal Affective Disorder
The seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression which relates to the changes in the seasons. It often occurs at specific times of the year, with most people noting their symptoms appearing in the fall and lasting through winter.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include:
- Losing interest in enjoyable activities
- Having low energy
- Lack of focus
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Ideations of suicide
Seasonal affective disorder which occurs during autumn is often related to the sudden shift of the body’s circadian rhythm. Reduced sunlight can also cause sudden drops in serotonin and melatonin, which can affect mood and sleep patterns.
What Is Circadian Rhythm? The process mainly responsible for the body’s sleep-wake cycle
What Is Serotonin? Known as the happy chemical. It is present in the digestive system, blood platelets, and central nervous system and is responsible for controlling moods.
What Is Melatonin? The sleep hormone. It helps inform the body when it’s time to sleep and wake up.
10. Noroviral Infection
Norovirus is a highly infectious virus which causes vomiting and easily spreads through close contact. Otherwise known as the winter vomiting bug, it is also very common once the autumn season comes around because of the sudden drop in temperatures and immune strength.
Norovirus has a short incubation period and can take only 12-48 hours before it kicks in. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, fever, and projectile vomiting.
The best way to avoid norovirus is sanitation and practicing good hygiene. Washing your hands thoroughly and often will greatly decrease your chances of getting infected, as well as wearing gloves, a face mask, and avoiding touching your face and mouth with your hands.
Asthma is a condition in which the bronchi of the lungs spasm, resulting in breathing difficulties. It usually comes as a result of an allergic reaction, sensitivity to various factors, and stress.
Asthma attacks are very common in the autumn season, especially among schoolchildren. This is because they are often out and about, going back to school and surrounded by allergens.
Other asthma triggers include hot weather, pollution, and mold.
To avoid asthma attacks, it’s best to keep away from allergens and known triggers, as well as keep prescribed inhalers on your person at all times.
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The fall season often means beautiful foliage and the promise of holidays, but they also come with setbacks like proliferating viruses. Staying fastidious with your hygiene and staying away from triggers can lessen the risk of catching these common illnesses this autumn.
Eating a healthy diet and supplementing it with Dr. Seeds’ supplements can help keep your immune system strong during the colder seasons.
Which of these common illnesses are you most familiar with personally? How do you manage it? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
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