JENKINTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Spring like temperatures in the region today which is a big swing from the frigid blast earlier this week. So, does the roller coaster on the thermometer mean you’re more likely to get sick?
Temperatures have gone from the deep freeze to April-esque and Dr. John Russell, Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health, says people with certain health conditions can feel worse with the shift.
“So, I certainly think, when the temperature changes, people who have orthopedic conditions, neurologic conditions will often feel worse,” Russell said. “People with arthritis. People with neuropathy. Migraines can sometimes be triggered by changes in the weather.”
However, Russell emphasizes that a short-term temperature jump does not necessarily mean you’re more likely to catch a cold.
“I don’t think a 60 degree temperature this week is suddenly gonna impact people’s health,” he said.
Russell, however, said a more significant change, from fall to winter, brings more potential for health problems.
“There are much higher death rates in January, February, March than other months of the year. Heart disease is higher. We certainly have more infectious disease. It’s flu season right now so more people are sick. People who have asthma, COPD, can have more bronchospasm from cold air. Certainly I think there are more extremes overall in cold weather than (warm) weather health-wise.”
And since it is flu season, Dr. Russell thinks a spring-like day may actually do some good.
“Most of the hospitals in the Delaware Valley are filled with patients,” he said. “I think a lot of that is different viral infectious diseases, including flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), so right now there are a lot of people sick. So, maybe getting outdoors and getting away from each other may not be a bad thing.”
And no matter what the temperature is…
“People should be getting their flu shot,” Russell said. “And when people are sick, washing your hands is very, very, very important. Hand washing I think can keep us all healthy. A lot of viruses can live on surfaces. Touching a door knob, an elevator button and things like that can be a way to transmit illnesses. I think that’s the biggest risk for ourselves.”