GREATER LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — We've all heard it, don't go outside if your hair is wet and wear your coat in the cold but Purdue Nursing Professor Libby Richards said that won't prevent you from getting sick.
“The research shows that the cold weather itself is what impacts disease but not necessarily how you're dressed for it,” said Richards.
There’s a bit more science that goes into it.
“When we breathe in cold air, especially over longer periods of time, like in the winter our nose, throat, eyes become dried out and when those mucous membranes dry out, it becomes easier for viruses to enter our system,” said Richards.
While influenza brought lots of coughing and sneezing this season, Richards said what's been most common this year is the stomach flu.
“We are now in the midst of flu season however we've also seen an increase in what we call the stomach flu, so a lot of people over this holiday break experienced what we suspect as norovirus so more GI upset, vomiting, diarrhea,” said Richards.
The colder the weather stays, the longer those symptoms can stick around and those lingering colds can lead to other health issues down the line.
“The longer someone has a cough or the aches or a fever the harder it is on them physically but also mentally, it’s easier to become depressed in the winter time,” said Richards. “When we’re sick, if we’re staying inside we have less contact with others so socially we can start to feel isolated.”
Richards encourages people to do their best to avoid being sick by staying hydrated, and staying away from those who are sick.
While that isn’t always easy, if you're in a place that could potentially harbor more germs, Richards suggests washing your hands a little more often this season and using alcohol based wipes to wipe down hard surfaces like tables, door handles and even your cell phone.