Summer Health: Why You May Be Getting Sick in the Summer (and How to Avoid It!) by Dr. Christopher Calapai
Despite the association made between sickness and wintertime, many are surprised when they fall ill during the beautiful, warm summer season. While our immune systems do tend to take down viruses with more ease in the summertime, they don’t always win the fight. Thankfully, combating summer sickness requires a simple, straightforward approach. To protect yourself from getting sick this summer, try this simple advice to find a natural fix:
- How clean is your air conditioner? Air conditioning is a lifesaver in the summer heat, but when’s the last time you cleaned your air conditioner? When left uncleaned for long periods of time, air conditioning systems can accumulate a wide array of bacteria that can make you sick. With these little germs being blasted right at you in the cool air, there’s no wonder you may be falling sick in the summer. In fact, studies have indicated a link between using air conditioning and needing to use health services. Not to fear, though, just make sure to clean your air conditioner regularly and you can enjoy the coolness with much less risk to your health!
- Are you getting a break from your fan or AC? Constantly being blasted by the cool air has quite the drying effect, not only on your skin, but on your mucus membranes inside your nasal passages. When these are dried out, their ability to defend against infection is greatly weakened, and thus a cold may ensue. Even without infection, the dryness can also cause your body to overproduce mucus in order to compensate, which can mimic cold-like symptoms with congestion and discomfort.
- Are you really even sick? It’s quite easy to confuse allergies with a cold, especially for those who haven’t previously been subject to the deleterious effects of pollen and other allergens. One easy way to know if you have a virus or if it is merely allergies is by the color of your mucus (assuming you have a runny nose!). A general rule of thumb is that if it is clear and watery, you’re just having allergies, but if it’s more viscous and greenish, it is likely a virus. Another sign that you have allergies and not a cold is that your symptoms remain constant for more than a week to a week and a half, as colds tend to clear up within that time frame.
- How is your sleep schedule? While our environment plays a substantial role in our health, at the end of the day, colds and other sickness come from viruses and bacteria (usually). The human body’s most fundamental mechanism to ward off these pesky guys is with our immune systems. But how do we show our immune system some love, you may ask? Sleep! But not just any sleep. A consistent, generous number of hours is ideal. Furthermore, the sleep you get with alcohol, marijuana and other substances in your system is not as revitalizing for your body. As many people drink more in the summer months, pay attention to this, as it may very well be the culprit behind your weakened immune system.
- How clean is clean enough? Paying attention to cleanliness is even more important in the muggy summer months. First of all, as you may be going out more (and thus touching more things!) in the summer, constantly washing your hands is one of the most reliable ways to stay illness free. Not only should you keep yourself clean, however, you must also keep your surroundings spic and span. Picking up your clothes and straightening your pillows is not enough in the summer season; it is the smaller bits that pose a more insidious threat. With more air circulating due to AC, all of the microscopic particles have a heightened chance to enter your breathing pathways and make you sick. Not only that, but the warmth also creates an ideal environment for bacteria proliferation, so make sure to wipe down all your surfaces regularly and to stay clean!
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