Skip to main content

Air conditioner makes you sick? What is the link between weather change and illness?

Apparently there is a link between changes in the weather to becoming more susceptible to the flu and other infections, but researchers claim this is only a circumstantial relationship. 

There is no question that winter is the season most identified with common colds and flu. But is there a casual connection between freezing air conditioners, cold weather and the proliferation of diseases?

lightning strikes a teddy bear and a virus

The short answer is that weather alone, however wintry, does not cause us to get ill. People living in northern Canada, Alaska, Iceland, or northern Sweden do not get more colds than those in Greece or other warm countries. 

The belief that cold weather may lead to illness must have evolved from confusion, similar to beliefs about the origin of Malaria. "Bad air around swamps" was for thousands of years thought to be the cause of malaria. Millions believed this, while mosquitoes had always been the real cause of the disease. 

The origin of the myth that cold weather causes common colds comes from an era when humans did not know what caused the disease. This is the way many myths were created and their original role was actually filling the void. 

One of the reasons for the persistence of this specific myth is none other than the name chosen for the disease - a common cold. But one of the main causes due to which the myth has persisted is that for years the common cold had no satisfactory explanation. 

The viruses that cause colds were identified only in the 1950s, although the disease has been known to mankind since ancient times. The precise and detailed medical description of a cold has appeared in an Egyptian medical papyrus, which was the earliest medical text found and written before the 16th century BC.

Yet, at the beginning of winter, hospitals fill up with patients with complications of influenza and colds. In the summer, too, many think air conditioners cause them to get ill. Both phenomena have a certain foothold in reality, but the link between changes in weather and disease is indirect or circumstantial. 


Even if this relationship is not yet fully agreed, one thing seems certain - temperature alone does not affect the risk of disease, because we do not get ill because of the cold but because of exposure to viruses and bacteria. 

The common cold is not caused by just one type of virus. The most common virus associated with the disease is the Rhinovirus. In addition, it can also be caused by viruses such as Coronavirus, Influenza virus, Adenoviruses, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and more. Overall, more than 200 types and subtypes of viruses were associated with symptoms of the common cold.

So what is the link between cold weather and proliferation of viruses?

Temperature changes are accompanied by additional changes, which actually increase the risk of getting sick. Many studies report an increase in respiratory diseases and hospitalizations when temperatures drop. There are several reasons for this, the importance of which is not yet clear.

First, some viruses, including some cold viruses, thrive at low temperatures, and their chances of survival in humans, as well as the chances of infection, increase as temperature and humidity fall. 


This is coupled with the fact that in cold and dry weather, the mucous membranes of the nose and lungs tend to dry up, so the body is more vulnerable to attacks by pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.

In addition, during the winter people tend to stay indoors, which are usually not sufficiently ventilated, which increases the chances and the rate of infection if there is an ill person present in the same space. 


Finally, a comprehensive literature review from 2016 states that the main cause of disease when temperatures fall (unlike periods when the temperature is low but stable) is the awakening of dormant viruses in the body due to temperature changes in the carrier body.

Spring and summer diseases

As the weather warms up, we see an outbreak of other diseases, this time under the influence of seasonal allergies. As the body fights a typical spring allergy to pollen, it becomes much more vulnerable to attacks by viruses and bacteria.

In addition, no allergy attacks often show symptoms similar to the common cold. For example, Hay Fever (Rhinitis) is a concept born of what was once perceived as a disease that would break out among farmers during the harvest season at the end of the summer. 


In retrospect, it turned out that this was a severe allergy attack and not a viral or bacterial disease as they had previously thought. There are many other diseases that thrive at high temperatures, gastrointestinal infections such as Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter are prime examples.

Like other pathogenic bacteria that work in the digestive system, Campylobacter enters the body through spoiled food, especially improperly cooked chicken. It causes fever and diarrhea lasting several days, and sometimes there will also be reactive arthritis and sensitive intestine. 


In rare cases, it can even lead to the severe neurological Gillian-Barres syndrome, which causes muscle paralysis. The number of patients due to the Campylobacter bacteria tripled in the years 1999-2010 and its current rate is 91 patients per 100,000 people. 

The disease is most common in infants younger than two years of age, and the rate of the disease among toddlers is about 350 per 100,000.

In a joint study conducted by Tel Aviv University, the University of Haifa and the Israeli Ministry of Health, the association between Campylobacter virus infections and temperature in Israel was examined to determine whether heat contributes to the spread of the disease. The results of the study proved that such a relationship exists.

The study found that when temperatures rise, so does the incidence of infection. On average for the entire population, starting at a temperature of 27 degrees, there is an increase of about 16 percent in cases of disease for each degree. 


Even more alarming is the fact that for toddlers aged 2 years and under, this relationship is valid for the entire temperature range, i.e., there is no threshold temperature, and any warming of one degree leads to an increase in the percentage of infections, which is about 5 percent. Toddlers are more affected than adults because their immune system at this age is not yet developed and therefore cannot develop immunity to the disease.

How can the relationship between weather and food poisoning be explained?

Food undergoes a long production cycle from its growth in the economy until it reaches the consumer. 

Risk factors may increase at any stage of the production cycle, from low density and hygiene in poultry farms, through cross-contamination in slaughterhouses (i.e., between the birds themselves) and suboptimal transport and storage conditions. 

The effect of all these increases as temperatures rise. The study found that the rate of morbidity in Israel is strongest linked to the temperature in the four weeks prior to diagnosis, suggesting that the infection takes place in the later stages of the food production process - around the time of transport, storage or consumption.

These conclusions reinforce similar findings from studies conducted in other countries around the world; the same association between warming and the spread of Campylobacter was also found in Canada, England and Australia. 


A comprehensive international scientific review recently published examined hundreds of studies from the last decade that dealt with how climate change affects human health. 

According to the survey, there is widespread scientific consensus that warming over 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average (the global target set in the Paris Agreement of December 2015) poses significant health risks. These are mainly due to heat loads, concentrations of ozone near the ground, and damage to food availability and quality.

Do air conditioners make people more susceptible to infections?

As for air conditioners, there is a phenomenon known as the sick building syndrome; it has been observed that people who live or work in buildings that are built in a certain way report headaches, fatigue and nausea during their stay in the building. 

One of the reasons for this phenomenon is inadequate ventilation, and of course the use of air conditioners.

Here, too, the temperature of the air conditioner itself is not the cause of the disease, but the air conditioner, which is not cleaned frequently, accumulates moisture that provides fertile ground for the development of fungi and bacteria. 


Some are emitted from the air conditioner and carry in the air and can cause problems in the respiratory system. In addition, the air conditioner recycles the air inside the room or building and does not introduce new air. 

So harmful substances and bacteria are distributed within the air-conditioned space. Finally, the air conditioner dries the air in the room, and as mentioned above, dry air increases the body's vulnerability to bacteria and viruses.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Researchers Identified a Virus that Attacks Cancer Cells

Researchers identified a virus that attacks human cancer cells can distinguishes Healthy cells.
Audio Version Of This Post
Viruses are usually supposed to worry us, but this is not the case with inoculate viruses. those that infect cancer cells and kill them, ignoring healthy cells. So it is no wonder that the search for such viruses attracts many researchers.

The Seneca Valley virus.This virus also known as Senecavirus affects pigs and cows. In recent years it has been found that the virus attacks human cancer cells.

The ability to identify tumors and ignore normal cells tested in two trials. The first in relapsed solid tumors in children and the second in lung carcinoma.

Experiments also found that the immune system was removing the virus from the body. Thus preventing it from completing its anticancer action.
Ongoing research to understand how the Seneca Valley virus may be used for cancer treatments.Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand discovered in 2017. That the vi…

New study suggests, people with better sense of smell have a better sense of direction

People with a good sense of smell also have a better sense of direction, suggesting a link between the two systems, a new study suggestsWhy do we have a sense of smell?
The smell of fruit directs us (or at least the lemurs) to the most mature fruit, and even our interpersonal relationships are affected by scents. But some researchers believe that its first use by the first animals, the advantage it gave them over the lack of sense of smell, is navigation. 

Now researchers from Canada have shown that people with a better understanding of smell also navigate better.

The olfactory bulb, the region of the brain that receives information about odors from the nose and makes the initial processing of the smell, exists in many species of animals. It has identified in mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish, and there is a similar structure, even in crabs and insects. 

For some, the bulb is tiny compared to the size of the brain, and for others, it is enormous. A study published several years ago showe…

10 Incredible Scientific Breakthroughs and New Inventions

Scientific discoveries continue to appear every year. new discoveries in a variety of fields, from innovative solutions and treatments for common and deadly diseases to archaeological discoveries, space discoveries, and unusual scandals, learn about 10 groundbreaking scientific discoveries that have taken place and can certainly affect our lives in the near future.

1. Sickle cell anemia can be cured by transplantation of stem cellsSickle cell anemia is a severe and common blood disease in which more than 4 million people worldwide are infected.

In April, a pair of scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute announced that they had completely cured a 26-year-old man with sickle cell anemia, Through the transplantation of healthy stem cells in the body, they hope and believe that similar results will also occur in the future as more patients receive similar treatment with stem cells.
2. Scientists have been able to stop and reverse the process of aging in miceAging is a natu…