Can Fluctuating Weather Make You Sick?

March 14, 2023

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

As seasons change and barometric pressure begins to shift, a common question we hear from our patients is, “can fluctuating weather make you sick?” Yes it can! Although the reality of weather related sickness is much more complex than that, your physiology does react whenever the weather changes.

It is more complicated than that, largely because your immune system gets compromised when temperatures drastically change, meaning that the “weather sickness” you’re experiencing may not exactly be the direct result of the weather in question. 

The sinus experts from Kaplan Sinus Relief are here to dive into the answers to the question, can fluctuating weather make you sick?

Why do I feel bad when the weather changes?

The popular English language idiom “under the weather” isn’t just a catchy turn of phrase. Many people do legitimately get sick when the seasons change or the temperature and barometric pressure significantly fluctuates. Several different factors contribute to this “weather sickness.” 

Some of the ways your body reacts to changing weather include the following:

  • Pressure in the sinuses and joints
  • Swollen tissues
  • Thickening in the blood and joint fluids
  • Narrowed blood vessels
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Dried, cracked mucus membranes
  • Weakened immunity
  • Vitamin D deficiency from reduced exposure to sunlight 

In addition, shifting weather patterns often lead to plants releasing pollen and certain bacteria and fungi emerging from dormancy. People whose immune systems are already taxed from fighting weather-related conditions are more susceptible to sinus infections and similar illnesses. 

What are the symptoms of weather change sickness?

Considering that the symptoms of a general “weather change sickness” overlap with common illnesses, it can be difficult to determine the exact source of your illness. For example, patients asking, “can you get a stuffy nose from cold weather?” are likely unaware of the many other conditions that could be at fault. A medical professional can help you parse the standard winter colds and spring fevers from other potential problems. 

Some of the symptoms you may experience due to weather changes include the following:

  • Weather-related fatigue due to low barometric pressure
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Cough (keep reading: do allergies make you cough?)
  • Sinus pressure
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Watery eyes
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Irritability
  • Changes in appetite

It usually takes the human body about two weeks to properly acclimate to major weather changes, particularly if said changes signify a shift in seasons. If these symptoms worsen over the span of two weeks or don’t dissipate by the time you’re supposed to have settled into the new normal, we recommend speaking with a sinus specialist to make sure there aren’t underlying conditions such as chronic sinus infections, flu, RSV, COVID-19, or similar issues. 

Weather change sickness treatment options

Weather change sickness is uncomfortable, but not untreatable. For a condition like cold weather sinus pain, for example, if you need to know how to relieve sinus pressure, you have multiple options to relieve symptoms using both over-the-counter medications as well as natural supplements. Most cases of weather change sickness don’t require prescription drugs, fortunately, but they might if the illness worsens despite intervention.

Some of the over-the-counter methods of treating water change sickness include the following:

  • Lozenges
  • Cough syrup
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal irrigation
  • Nasal spray
  • Anti-allergy medication
  • Vapor rubs

Over-the-counter medicine needs to be taken per the instructions on the box, so you’re limited in how much you can take. However, many natural remedies can supplement pharmaceuticals. 

Natural treatments

Some of the natural options available to help with alleviating the symptoms of water change symptoms include the following:

  • Proper hydration
  • Herbal teas (particularly ginger, peppermint, and chrysanthemum)
  • Honey and lemon toddies
  • Chicken soup 
  • Rest
  • Saltwater gargling
  • Humidifiers
  • Warm compresses and baths
  • Vitamin C (eating foods rich in the substance is generally preferred to supplements)
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric

Keep in mind that “natural” doesn’t” always mean “safe.” If you’re taking over-the-counter and prescription medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure none of the additional treatment options you’re considering negatively interact with them. 

Is weather change sickness contagious?

Weather sickness in and of itself isn’t contagious, as it’s usually contingent upon how your body reacts to the natural shifts in barometric pressure and other factors. However, weather sickness does weaken your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to conditions that are contagious, such as colds, the flu, and certain sinus infections. Because of this, it’s wise to always take precautions to prevent the spread as you don’t always know what illnesses you may have picked up along the way.

Kaplan Sinus Relief can help you manage your weather sickness symptoms

So, can fluctuating weather make you sick? It can, and it puts you at risk of getting sicker with other illnesses. If the familiar over-the-counter medical solutions fail, Kaplan Sinus Relief offers a range of outpatient surgical solutions to help you breathe easier. Our balloon sinuplasty, allergy testing, and other services are quick, simple, and effective. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about what we can do to make your life healthier and happier.

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This article has been reviewed and approved by Michael Kaplan, MD


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